10 Things You Never Knew About HIV and AIDS
World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988. The day was originally conceived by the World Health Organization to raise awareness and support. This year marks the 30th World AIDS Day, with the 2018 theme being Know Your Status. That theme comes with two major objectives, according to the WHO: “Urge people to know their HIV infection status through testing, and to access HIV prevention, treatment, and care services, and urge policy-makers to promote a ‘health for all’ agenda for HIV and related health services.”The day is an opportunity to take stock of the epidemic’s scope and the everyday impact of the virus–and what better way to do this than reminding ourselves of the often alarming numbers involved?
The stories of individuals who have lived HIV/AIDS, or who have lost a loved one to the illness, will always have unique power. But the following statistics, gathered from government data and scientific research, bring home the vastness and complexity of the epidemic.
1.1 million = Estimated number of HIV-positive people in the United States
This figure works out to about 1 in every 200 people over the age of 13. What’s more, 1 in 7 don’t know they’re infected because they haven’t been tested for the virus.
Globally, an estimated 36.9 million people are living with HIV/AIDS—nearly 70% of them in Africa. While the rate in the United States seem low by comparison, it still is one of the highest in the developed world, Michael Horberg, MD, director of HIV/AIDS at Kaiser Permanente. (In the U.K., for instance, roughly 1 in 625 people are estimated to be HIV-positive.)
12,333 = Estimated annual U.S. deaths from HIV/AIDS
This statistic, from 2014 (the most recent year for which solid data is available), is heartbreaking yet also encouraging: It’s about a quarter of the number of people who died of HIV/AIDS in 1995, when mortality reached an all-time high and dramatically less than the 21,601 estimated deaths from HIV/AIDS in 2009.
The sharp decrease is a testament to improved testing, diagnosis, and treatment. “This number, while still too high, shows that quality HIV care, and the potent medications we now have, [have] dramatically improved the lives of HIV-positive Americans and people worldwide,” Dr. Horberg says.
8,164 = People ages 13 to 24 newly infected with HIV in the United States each year
In 2016, young people accounted for one in every five new infections in the United States, according to the Centers Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From 2010 to 2015, HIV infections among this group fell 24%. In 2017, 8,164 teens and young adults between 13 and 24 were diagnosed, according to the CDC.
Unfortunately, only 10% of high school students and just 21% of male students who are sexually active with other males have been tested, according to the CDC.
43% = HIV-positive people in the United States who are African-American
This is a startling number, given that African-Americans make just 12% of the U.S. population. The burden of disease is even more disproportionate among 13- to 24-year-olds, an age group in which African-Americans or blacks account for 54% of new infections.
“HIV is now a disease of minorities—black, Latino, gay men—and people who have been often medically disenfranchised in the past,” says Dr. Horberg, who is also chair of the HIV Medicine Association, a professional association for doctors and health care providers who specialize in HIV/AIDS.
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