HIV Statistics - Featured Image

54 Sobering HIV Statistics & Facts Everyone Should Know

by Aleksandar Hrubenja

HIV, also known as human immunodeficiency virus, has been a negative presence in the world for some time now due to its prevalence and severity. This virus targets our immune systems, weakening the defenses that protect us from cancer and infection. Slowly, our immune cells become immunodeficient, increasing our susceptibility even further. The relevant HIV statistics and facts confirm its deadliness. 

After a time, people living with HIV will enter the advanced stage of this disease, developing Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This causes the development of cancers, as well as serious pneumonia-like symptoms. However, the best way to combat it is by preventing it, and the first step is getting educated. Below are some facts and information that will help you understand this disease a bit better, while also gaining a perspective on how it affects the world.

The Key HIV Statistics and Facts to Keep in Mind in 2019

  • The number of AIDS-related deaths decreased by 45% between 2006 and 2016.
  • HIV infections decreased by 37% between 2000 and 2018.
  • Every 9.5 minutes somebody in the US contracts HIV.
  • More than 15% of the people with HIV in the US don’t know they’re infected.
  • Over 90% of children who have HIV contracted it from their mother. 
  • In the US, the AIDS statistics indicate that from the moment it was discovered, over 636,000 people have died from AIDS.
  • HIV is the ninth leading cause of death for people between the ages of 25 and 44.
  • In 2019, the US spent over $34.8 billion combating the HIV crisis.
  • There have been 74.9 million infections since the epidemic started.
  • South Africa has the largest number of people that are infected with HIV, with 7.7 million citizens living with the disease.

General HIV and AIDS Statistics

HIV Statistics - Facts

1. The HIV virus spread to humans from chimps back in the 1920s.

(Avert)

It’s well-known that humans first obtained this virus from chimps. This likely occurred back in the 1920s, when people living in Africa hunted chimpanzees for meat. The animals had their own version of HIV (SIV: simian immunodeficiency virus), which the hunters contracted and which then mutated, turning into HIV.

2. The HIV virus was first identified as such in 1983, by French researchers.

(Avert)

In 1983, the HIV virus was isolated, and finally identified, in the Pasteur Institute in France. Among one of the more interesting HIV/AIDS facts is that it was first called lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV). At the same time, scientists in the National Cancer Institute in the US isolated that same virus, naming it HTLV-III.

3. Use of the term “4-H Club” represented the first instance of real stigmatization tied to AIDS.

(Avert)

Among the more disconcerting facts about HIV is that in its beginning it was the source of a great deal of stigmatization and discrimination. The main at-risk groups in the early stages of the epidemic were homosexuals, hemophiliacs, Haitians, and heroin addicts. This was both due to how easily it transferred among these groups, as well as the disease’s geographic origins. All these individuals were, and to some extent still are, exposed to discrimination.

4. The annual number of AIDS-related deaths nearly halved between 2006 and 2016.

(Our World in Data)

There are still some positive HIV/AIDS statistics, one of these being that the annual number of AIDS-related deaths reduced by 45% between 2006 and 2016. This means that millions of people have been saved through better education, information, and access to medication.

5. HIV can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, but also through breastfeeding.

(Our World in Data)

The relevant HIV stats show that there is a very high chance of HIV being transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, while the child is still in the womb. The risk of breastfeeding can increase the risk of the child contracting HIV by almost 45%. 

6. HIV infections are diagnosed through RDTs and can give you the results that very same day.

(World Health Organization)

The relevant HIV and AIDS facts show that rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) can give you answers the very same day you took the test. This allows people to act fast, getting their condition under control as soon as possible.

7. The groups most susceptible to HIV infection are men who have sex with men, sex workers, clients of sex workers, transgender people, individuals who inject drugs, and prison populations.

(World Health Organization)

The data on HIV demographics shows that there’s a wide variety of individuals who are at greater risk of contracting HIV. The circumstances that explain why these demographics have such a high prevalence have been thoroughly analyzed by WHO researchers in their guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care.

8. Around 23.3 million people who live with HIV receive ART treatment.

(World Health Organization)

The relevant HIV/AIDS statistics show that of the 36.9 million people who have HIV/AIDS, 23.3 million receive ART (antiretroviral therapy) medication and treatment. This type of treatment can significantly increase the lifespans of people living with HIV/AIDS.

9. The total number of new HIV infections saw a 37% reduction between 2000 and 2018.

(World Health Organization)

A more positive note in the AIDS epidemic history is that the global infection rate has dramatically fallen between 2000 and 2018. However, it should be noted that some countries and demographics still have stable or even slightly increasing rates of infection.

10. There were 31 AIDS-related deaths in 1981 or earlier.

(Factlv)

The AIDS epidemic didn’t begin with a bang, but with a whimper. The 31 deaths in 1981 are certainly sobering, but they are nowhere near the tragedies that were to follow.

US HIV Facts and Statistics

HIV Statistics - US

11. The first case of HIV in the US was reported in 1981.

(U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services)

Of course, it was not recognized and named as such at the time. The first-ever case was recorded in 1981, on June 16. The patient passed away just a few months later, in October of the same year.

12. Every 9.5 minutes in the US, someone else contracts HIV.

(U.S. Statistics, DoSomething)

One of the more disturbing facts about AIDS (and HIV) is that every 9.5 minutes somebody in the United States gets this virus. While the prevalence is still better than what we saw just 10 years ago, this is still a concerning statistic.

13. HIV can be found in every single state in America.

(Avert)

The relevant data and HIV statistics by state show that California has the greatest number of HIV infections, with over 135,000 people living with this disease. However, HIV infections can be found in every single state in the US. 

14. More than 15% of people who have HIV in the US are not aware they are infected.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

Many people simply don’t know they have HIV. Namely, the data on AIDS demographics shows that over 15% of people who have HIV/AIDS are unaware of their condition. The most likely reason is that the initial HIV symptoms aren’t usually that severe, or they may seem similar to other issues.

15. The number of women suffering from HIV in America is close to a quarter of a million.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

According to the Center for Disease Control, the HIV statistics they’ve gathered show that women are also heavily impacted by this disease, dispelling the myth that gay men make up almost all HIV patients. Namely, around 258,000 women were suffering from HIV in 2016.

16. African Americans made up 44% of new HIV cases in 2010.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

African Americans made up almost half of new HIV cases in 2010, even though they only total 13% of the US population. This data is from the CDC and its HIV stats covering different demographics in the US. 

17. HIV is the ninth leading cause of death in people between the ages of 25 and 44.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

According to the data gathered by the Kaiser Family Foundation, HIV is a major cause of death in people aged 25–44. 

18. Since 1981, there have been over 636,000 deaths related to AIDS in the US.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The CDC has HIV statistics showing that AIDS and HIV have taken over 636,000 lives in the United States since the epidemic began.

19. Around 50,000 US citizens are diagnosed with HIV every year.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Every year since the 1990s, an average of 50,000 Americans have been diagnosed with the HIV virus, according to the data gathered by the CDC.

20. Over 15,000 people died of AIDS in 2010.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Even though HIV education and prevention are bearing fruit, and the infection and death rates are lower, the relevant AIDS facts are still rather grim. 

21. Gay and bisexual men make up more than 60% of all individuals suffering from HIV in the US.

(U.S. Statistics)

In general, homosexual and bisexual men (i.e., men who sleep with men) represent 60% of all individuals who suffer from HIV/AIDS. There are clear HIV and AIDS facts and data showing their prevalence as patients.

22. Around 38% of the new infections in 2016 were spread by people who were not aware they had HIV.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

Many people simply don’t know they’re HIV positive. Besides having disastrous effects on their health and preventing them from seeking the help they need, they also have an increased chance of infecting others.

23. There was an 8% drop in the number of HIV infections in the US between 2010 and 2015.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

Following the AIDS epidemic timeline, there’s some good news. Namely, between 2010 and 2015, there was an 8% decline in the number of HIV infections within the United States. 

24. Of all the new HIV diagnoses in the US, 80% occur in metropolitan areas.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

Most new HIV diagnoses in the US can be found in larger, more populous areas. In fact, the top three cities in terms of prevalence are Miami, Orlando, and Atlanta, the HIV statistics confirm.

25. Around 6,000 people died of HIV/AIDS in 2016.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

On a more negative note, the AIDS crisis still takes lives every year. In 2016, over 6,000 people died of HIV and AIDS complications.

26. People under 35 accounted for 56% of all HIV diagnoses in 2017.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

General HIV statistics from 2017 show that more than half of all new HIV diagnoses occur among the younger generations. 

27. In 2019, the US spent over $34.8 billion to fight HIV.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

These funds allow for a comprehensive way to address this health problem. This includes education, prevention, and general health care, as well as research and housing assistance.

28. As far as the HIV trends and demographic data are concerned, the HIV/AIDS rates for Asians and Latinos are stable.

(HIV.gov)

Between 2010 and 2016, the annual number of HIV infections has decreased for African Americans and whites. However, the numbers are basically the same for Asians and Latinos year over year.

Global AIDS Statistics and Facts

HIV Statistics - Global

29. Since the HIV epidemic started, around 74.9 million people worldwide have been infected.

(UNAIDS)

While we’re seeing a notable drop in the rates of HIV and AIDS today, the number of people who have been infected since this epidemic started is staggering. The estimated number of people infected with HIV since its beginning is somewhere between 58 and 98 million, with UNAIDS reaching an average number of 74.9 million.

30. Reviewing data on AIDS in Africa, statistics show that Eswatini (Swaziland) has the highest rate of HIV in the world.

(Kaiser Family Foundation)

More than a quarter of Eswatini’s population aged 15–49 are infected. Namely, 27.2% of adults in this age group have HIV. 

31. In 2018, South Africa had the largest number of people living with HIV.

(Our World in Data, Avert)

The further facts about AIDS in Africa show that while Eswatiini has the highest prevalence rate, South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV, at 7.7 million. This is an adult HIV prevalence rate of 20.4%. Furthermore, this country reports 71,000 AIDS-related deaths every year.

32. The African region accounts for two-thirds of the total global HIV infections.

(World Health Organization)

According to the gathered information on AIDS in Africa, the facts show that the majority of all global HIV infections can be found in Africa.

33. In 2011, over 7 million people worldwide did not have access to HIV treatment.

(World Health Organization Figures)

Treatment can significantly mitigate the symptoms of AIDS and HIV and greatly prolong a patient’s lifespan. Namely, what was once a death sentence is now a condition that people can live with and reach old age. However, over 7 million people around the globe do not have access to HIV treatment and will suffer the consequences.

34. Over 90% of children that have HIV contract it from their infected mothers.

(World Vision)

The HIV transmission statistics show that over 90% of children that have HIV contracted it from their mothers while they were in the womb, during birth, or from breastfeeding. Mothers need urgent medical care if they are to minimize the risk of transmitting this disease to their children while pregnant.

35. HIV patients are at the greatest risk of contracting tuberculosis.

(World Vision)

The global HIV statistics demonstrate that the immunodeficiency brought on by HIV and AIDS allows for the development of tuberculosis. Since tuberculosis is an opportunistic infection (thus attacking people with weakened immune systems), people with HIV are highly prone to getting it.

36. Men who have sex with men and individuals who inject drugs are 22 times more likely to get HIV.

(The Foundation for AIDS Research)

The relevant HIV and AIDS statistics have shown that men who have sex with men, sex workers, and individuals who inject drugs have significantly greater chances of developing HIV when compared to other demographics. In fact, sex workers are 21 times more likely to get HIV.

37. Around 100,000 children under 15 years old died from AIDS and HIV and its complications in 2018.

(The Foundation for AIDS Research)

And the relevant HIV statistics from 2018 show that 1.7 million children younger than 15 were living with HIV. It’s important to note that while new infections have been on a decline for some time now, AIDS is still a very serious and contagious disease. 

38. HIV infections for people injecting drugs are at an all-time low in Western and Central Europe, as well as North America.

(The Foundation for AIDS Research)

While in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, the HIV and AIDS stats following this parameter are not as positive, showing signs of higher infection rates, other areas of the world are getting better. Namely, Western and Central Europe and North America report an all-time low for HIV infections in people who inject drugs. They also have lower rates of general HIV infections for most demographics.

39. Eastern Europe and Central Asia are showing the greatest increase in HIV epidemic rates—a 29% rise between 2010 and 2018.

(The Foundation for AIDS Research)

Even though HIV and AIDS statistics by country show that incidence and infection rates are dropping on the global level, specific locations are actually getting worse. Along with Eastern Europe and Central Asia’s 29% increase, the Middle East and North Africa have seen a 10% rise in new HIV infections.

40. On a worldwide scale, 37.9 million people were living with HIV in 2018.

(UNAIDS)

According to the data gathered in 2019, the HIV statistics of worldwide infection rates show that there were over 37.9 million people living with the HIV virus last year. While this is still better when compared to the past, much work still needs to be done. The outlook is improving: the 7.7 people worldwide with access to antiretroviral therapy in 2010 rose to 23.3 million in 2018. However, as we can see, there’s still room for improvement.

FAQs

HIV Statistics - FAQs

What is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This virus attacks the cells that help our bodies fight infections and diseases. Once we’ve contracted this virus, we are more prone and vulnerable to various infections and diseases. Once you get HIV, you have it for life, since there is no cure at this time. 

What is AIDS?

The term AIDS, today, is often used interchangeably with HIV. However, these are not the same. AIDS (or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), is a disease that happens once HIV has been left untreated for longer periods of time. It is essentially the late stage of HIV, which occurs when the body’s immune system has been completely ravaged by the HIV virus.

Where did AIDS come from?

While it is difficult to know when and where the AIDS epidemic started, scientists have identified the source of HIV infection in humans. It came from a specific type of chimpanzee found in Central Africa. Researchers believe that the chimpanzees have transmitted their own version of the immunodeficiency virus (called SIV, or simian immunodeficiency virus) to humans, which then mutated into HIV.

The most likely means of transfer was through the blood. Humans in this area hunted chimps for meat, and their infected blood must have come into contact with scrapes and cuts on the hunters’ bodies. It then spread all around Africa, beginning the HIV epidemic in this area, later becoming a pandemic once it left Africa’s shores.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is transmitted when you come into direct contact with specific bodily fluids from an individual who has HIV. Namely, we are talking about semen and pre-seminal fluid, blood, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breastmilk. 

How do you get HIV?

In order to contract HIV, an infected person’s bodily fluids will have to enter your bloodstream. This can occur by having the fluids get in contact with open cuts and sores or by direct injections. However, the virus can also pass through mucous membranes, like the vagina, mouth, tip of the penis, or rectum. 

The stats on HIV show that sharing needles with HIV-positive individuals also leads to infection. Unprotected sexual intercourse is the cause of many transmissions. Transmission during pregnancy also happens, with the child often contracting the virus while still in the mother’s womb. 

You can also get HIV from oral sex. The specific risk level is difficult to determine, but it’s much higher if you have sores or cuts in your mouth. 

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

The difference between HIV and AIDS is that AIDS is just a later stage of the HIV virus. Another way to say it is that HIV is a virus, while AIDS is a condition caused by this virus. HIV damages your immune system, while AIDS (or stage 3 HIV) is a condition that occurs once your immune system has been sufficiently damaged.

What causes AIDS?

HIV infects T-helper white blood cells. It fuses and attaches itself to these cells, controls its DNA, and then replicates itself to release more of the virus within the blood of the infected individual. After a while, so many T-cells are destroyed that the body loses more and more of its ability to fight off infections and diseases, culminating in the development of AIDS.

How common is HIV?

There are around 36.9 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS. Of the people who are infected, 1.8 million are under 18. In the United States, around 1.1 million people have HIV.

How can you tell if you have HIV?

While the symptoms of HIV will vary from individual to individual, there are some common signs that all HIV infected people share. So if you’re wondering how to know if you have HIV, between the first and fourth week of infection, people will notice flu-like symptoms that last for up to two weeks. Aches and pains in your muscles and joints, fever, headaches, rashes, etc.

Once the first stage is over, you will feel healthier overall. However, the virus is still there and if left unchecked can morph into AIDS in around 10 years. 

How can you prevent HIV?

The best way how to prevent HIV is by practicing safe sex. This means using a condom whenever you have vaginal or anal sex, as well as being honest with your partner and having him or her be honest with you. 

If you are pregnant, getting urgent medical care can significantly reduce the chance of your child getting HIV. 

And if you are using needles for whatever reason, always be certain that they are clean and sterile. Do not share needles, ever.

How long does it take for HIV to show up?

It varies significantly. You can have HIV for a long time and not feel any strong symptoms. Still, most of the time, HIV symptoms occur around two to four weeks after initial exposure. These symptoms can last for several weeks. However, sometimes you may exhibit symptoms for only a few days.

The best course of action is getting tested if you feel you’re at risk or if you had unprotected sex.

Where is HIV most common?

South Africa has the largest number of people who are living with HIV in the world. However, the highest rate of HIV can be found in Eswatini, with up to 27.3% of the population having this disease.

How long can you live with HIV?

The survival rate of people living with HIV has dramatically improved, as long as they have access to medication. In fact, an individual living with HIV can expect to reach the age of 70, if not more.

And while ART medication and care is the most important and primary thing one suffering from HIV should utilize, lifestyle changes, a better diet, and generally a healthier lifestyle are also contributing factors. However, the facts about HIV and AIDS indicate that people who do not have treatment can expect to survive about three years after they are diagnosed with AIDS.

The important thing here, besides access to treatment, is understanding the difference between HIV and AIDS. Namely, you can live for several years with HIV and feel very few symptoms, if any. However, once you develop AIDS, you will become more prone to infections and other diseases and will have a severely diminished lifespan if it’s left untreated.

When was AIDS discovered?

While it is believed that AIDS first originated in the 1920s in Africa, the virus that causes it (HIV) was officially discovered in 1983. 

Conclusion

HIV and AIDS are no laughing matter. However, while there is still no cure, the disease is at least somewhat manageable. Understand that no matter the cost, no matter how many lives it takes, things are looking up. Death rates have been halved, infection rates are getting lower, and people living with HIV or AIDS have longer and longer lifespans—and the HIV statistics are there to prove it. 

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