10 facts on HIV/AIDS

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) 36.7 million people live with HIV worldwide
The vast majority are in low- and middle-income countries.
4) HIV is one of the world’s leading infectious killer
35 million [29.6 million–40.8 million] people have died from AIDS- related illnesses since the start of the epidemic

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) Over 17 million HIV-positive people had access to ART in low- and middle-income countries at the end of 2015
Overall, the coverage of ART in low- and middle-income countries continued to increase.
In western and central Africa, 1.8 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, 28% [23–34%] of all people living with HIV in the region.

7) New HIV infections among children have declined by 50% since 2010.
Worldwide, 150 000 [110 000–190 000] children became newly infected with HIV in 2015, down from 290 000 [250 000–350 000] in 2010.

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

Tuberculosis-related deaths among people living with HIV have fallen by 32% since 2004.
– Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for around one in three AIDS-related deaths.
– In 2014, the percentage of identified HIV-positive tuberculosis patients who started or continued on antiretroviral therapy reached 77%.

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.

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