10 facts on HIV/AIDS
Updated May 2017
HIV/AIDS remains one of the world's most significant public health challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
As a result of recent advances in access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV-positive people now live longer and healthier lives. In addition, it has been confirmed that ART prevents onward transmission of HIV.
An estimated 18.2 million [16.1 million–19 million] people were receiving HIV treatment in mid-2016. However, globally, only 46% [43–50%] of the 36.7 million people living with HIV in 2015 were receiving ART.
Progress has also been made in preventing and eliminating mother-to-child transmission and keeping mothers alive. In 2015, almost 8 out of 10 pregnant women living with HIV, or 1.1 million women, received antiretrovirals (ARVs).
WHO has released a set of normative guidelines and provides support to countries in formulating and implementing policies and programmes to improve and scale up HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for all people in need.
This fact file provides current data on the disease, and ways to prevent and treat it.
Fact 1: HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infects cells of the immune systemInfection 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.
Fact 2: HIV can be transmitted in several waysHIV can be transmitted through:
* unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal) or oral sex with an infected person;
* transfusions of contaminated blood or blood products ortransplantation of contaminated tissue;
* the sharing of contaminated injecting equipment and solutions (needles, syringes) or tattooing equipment;
* through the use of contaminated surgical equipment and other sharp instruments;
* the transmission between a mother and her baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
Fact 3: There are several ways to prevent HIV transmissionKey ways to prevent HIV transmission:
* practice safe sexual behaviours such as using condoms;
* get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV to prevent onward transmission;
* avoid injecting drugs, or if you do, always use sterile needles and syringes;
* ensure that any blood or blood products that you might need are tested for HIV;
* access voluntary medical male circumcision if you live in one of the 14 countries where this intervention is promoted;
* if you have HIV start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible for your own health and to prevent HIV transmission to your sexual or drug using partner or to your infant (if you are pregnant or breastfeeding);
* use pre-exposure prophylaxis prior to engaging in high risk behaviour;demand post-exposure prophylaxis if there is the risk that you have been exposed to HIV infection in both occupational and non-occupational settings.