The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), is a virus that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a condition that leads to the continuous deterioration of the immune system which can ultimately result in death. HIV is passed on primarily through the transmission of an infected person’s blood, unprotected sexual intercourse and injected drug use.
In 2016, almost 37 million people were HIV positive worldwide. Over 19 million of those infected with HIV lived in Eastern and Southern Africa. Of the 25 countries with the highest HIV prevalence in 2015, 24 were in Africa. Outside Africa, the Bahamas have the highest instances of HIV infection. HIV prevalence in North America and Europe is significantly lower. This can be attributed to better awareness, higher hygiene standards and better HIV prevention.
After a peak in 2004-2005, the number of AIDS deaths has been steadily decreasing. Still, there were approximately one million AIDS-related deaths all over the world in 2016, with most of them once again occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. With over 150,000 each, Nigeria and South Africa have by far the highest number of deaths due to AIDS. Among countries outside Africa, India has the highest number of AIDS deaths.
Since its discovery in 1981, treatment for HIV/AIDS has vastly improved. With the help of antiretroviral therapy (ART), people infected with HIV can effectively stall the progress from HIV to AIDS. Although access to antiretroviral therapy in such countries is still limited, progress over the last years can be clearly seen.
As expected, spending on HIV/AIDS is a very important issue. In 2015, available funding for the battle against the disease reached some 19 billion U.S. dollars globally. However, this will have to rise steeply with some estimates placing the funds required by 2020 at 26 billion. Poorer countries mainly depend on international funding to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For example, public and philanthropic institutions from developed countries are among the top funders for research and development on HIV/AIDS.
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