The Global HIV and AIDS Epidemic
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is one of the world’s most serious public health challenges. But there is a global commitment to stopping new HIV infections and ensuring that everyone with HIV has access to HIV treatment.
Number of People with HIV—There were approximately 39 million people across the globe with HIV in 2022. Of these, 37.5 million were adults, and 1.5 million were children (<15 years old). In addition, 53% were women and girls.
New HIV Infections—An estimated 1.3 million individuals worldwide acquired HIV in 2022, marking a 38% decline in new HIV infections since 2010 and 59% since the peak in 1995. New HIV infections, or “HIV incidence,” refers to the estimated number of people who newly acquired HIV during a given period such as a year, which is different from the number of people diagnosed with HIV during a year. (Some people may have HIV but not know it.) Women and girls accounted for 46% of all new HIV infections in 2022.
HIV Testing & Knowledge of HIV Status—Approximately 86% of people with HIV globally knew their HIV status in 2022. The remaining 14% (about 5.5 million people) did not know they had HIV and still needed access to HIV testing services. HIV testing is an essential gateway to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support services. The global targetExit Disclaimer for HIV status awareness is 95% by 2025.
HIV Treatment Access—As of the end of 2022, 29.8 million people with HIV (76% of all people with HIV) were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally. HIV treatment access is key to the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat. People with HIV who are aware of their status, take ART as prescribed, and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex. This is sometimes referred to as “undetectable = untransmittable” or U=U. The global targetsExit Disclaimer for 2025 include 95% of all people with diagnosed HIV initiating treatment and 95% of those individuals on treatment achieving and maintaining HIV viral suppression.
HIV Care Continuum—The term HIV care continuum refers to the sequence of steps a person with HIV takes from diagnosis through receiving treatment until their viral load is suppressed to an undetectable level. Each step in the continuum is marked by an assessment of the number of people who have reached that stage. The stages are: being diagnosed with HIV; being linked to medical care; starting ART; adhering to the treatment regimen; and, finally, having HIV suppressed to undetectable levels in the blood. UNAIDS reports that in 2022, among all people with HIV worldwide:
- 86% knew their HIV status
- 76% were accessing ART
- 71% were virally suppressed
Perinatal Transmission—In 2022, globally, 82% of pregnant people with HIV had access to ART to prevent transmitting HIV to their babies during pregnancy and childbirth and to protect their own health.
AIDS-related Deaths—AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 69% since the peak in 2004. In 2022, around 630,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide, compared to 2 million people in 2004 and 1.3 million in 2010.
Regional Impact—Certain regions of the globe are disproportionately affected by HIV. In 2022, there were 20.8 million people with HIV in eastern and southern Africa, 4.8 million in western and central Africa, 6.5 million in Asia and the Pacific, and 2.3 million in Western and Central Europe and North America.
Challenges and Progress
Despite advances in our scientific understanding of HIV and its prevention and treatment, as well as years of significant effort by the global health community and leading government and civil society organizations, too many people with HIV or at risk for HIV still do not have access to prevention, care, and treatment, and there is still no cure. Further, the HIV epidemic not only affects the health of individuals, it also impacts households, communities, and the development and economic growth of nations. Many of the countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other infectious diseases, food insecurity, and other serious problems.
Despite these challenges, there have been successes and promising signs. New global efforts have been mounted to address the epidemic, particularly in the last decade. The number of people who have newly acquired HIV has declined over the years. In addition, the number of people with HIV receiving treatment in resource-poor countries has dramatically increased in the past decade, and dramatic progress has been made in preventing perinatal transmission of HIV and keeping pregnant people alive.
However, despite the availability of a widening array of effective HIV prevention tools and methods and a massive scale-up of HIV treatment in recent years, UNAIDS cautions there has been unequal progress in reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to treatment, and ending AIDS-related deaths, with many vulnerable people and populations left behind. The COVID-19 pandemicExit Disclaimer led to disruptions in HIV treatment and prevention services, spikes in gender-based violence and teenage pregnancies, and increases in greater fiscal burdens. In addition, HIV-related stigma and discriminationExit Disclaimer, together with other social inequalities and exclusion, are proving to be key barriers, and our response to HIV/AIDS across the globe may be in jeopardy without continued commitment and strong partnerships.
U.S. Response to the Global Epidemic
The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the U.S. Government’s response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and represents the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history. Through PEPFAR, which was launched in 2003, the U.S. has supported a world safer and more secure from infectious disease threats. It has demonstrably strengthened the global capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to new and existing risks—which ultimately enhances global health security and protects America’s borders. Among other global results, as of September 30, 2022, PEPFAR has provided HIV testing services for more than 64.7 million people and supported lifesaving ART for nearly 20.1 million men, women, and children. PEPFAR also enabled 5.5 million babies to be born HIV-free to parents living with HIV and trained over 340,000 health workers. Strong partnerships with countries and communities are key to these successes, along with U.S. Government support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and MalariaExit Disclaimer.
Read more about the U.S. Government’s global HIV/AIDS activities.