1 - HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infects cells of the immune system

Infection results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, breaking down the body's ability to fend off some infections and other diseases. AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection, defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or related cancers.

2 - HIV can be transmitted in several ways

HIV can be transmitted through:

• unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or oral sex with an infected person;

• transfusions of contaminated blood;

• the sharing of contaminated needles, syringes or other sharp instruments;

• the transmission between a mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

3 - 35.3 million people live with HIV worldwide

More than 35.3 million people are currently living with HIV, and 2.1 million of these are adolescents (10-19 years). All adolescents are vulnerable to HIV due to the physical and emotional transitions, and potentially heightened risk-taking behaviour, inherent to this period of life. The vast majority of people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 2.3 million people were newly infected with the virus in 2012.

4 - HIV is the world’s leading infectious killer

An estimated 36 million people have died so far and 1.6 million people died of HIV/AIDS in 2012.

5 - Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents the HIV virus from multiplying in the body

If the reproduction of the HIV virus stops, then the body's immune cells are able to live longer and provide the body with protection from infections. If the HIV positive partner in a couple is on ART, the likelihood of sexual transmission to the HIV-negative partner decreases dramatically.

6 - Close to 10 million HIV-positive people had access to ART in low- and middle-income countries at the end of 2012

There are some 29 million people who will require access to antiretroviral therapy under the new 2013 guidelines.

7 - An estimated 3.34 million children are living with HIV

According to 2012 figures most of the children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Over 700 children become newly infected with HIV each day.

8 - Mother-to-child-transmission of HIV is almost entirely avoidable

Access to preventive interventions remains limited in most low- and middle-income countries. But progress has been made. In 2012, 62% of pregnant women living with HIV received the most effective drug regimens (as recommended by WHO) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

9 - HIV is the strongest risk factor for developing active TB disease

In 2012, approximately 320 000 deaths from tuberculosis occurred among people living with HIV. That is one fifth of the estimated 1.6 million deaths from HIV in that year. The majority of people living with both HIV and TB reside in sub-Saharan Africa (about 75% of cases worldwide).

10 - There are several ways to prevent HIV transmission

Key ways to prevent HIV transmission:

• practice safe sexual behaviors such as using condoms;

• get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV;

• avoid injecting drugs, or if you do, always use new and disposable needles and syringes;

• ensure that any blood or blood products that you might need are tested for HIV.


*Source: Adapted from - http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/hiv/facts/en/index.html