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Last update: Nov 2013

Millenium Development Goal

MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Target: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

Global and regional trends

The challenge 

An estimated 34.0 million [31.4 million–35.9 million] people were living with HIV as of 2011; 3.3 million [3.1 million–3.8 million] of them were children under 15 years, and about 16.7 million [15.4 million–17.6 million] were women (see Global Summary table, below). Every day, nearly 7,000 persons became infected with HIV and nearly 5,000 persons died from AIDS, mostly because of inadequate access to HIV prevention care and treatment services.


As of 2011, roughly 17.3 million children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS, and millions more have been affected, with a vastly increased risk of poverty, homelessness, school dropout, discrimination and loss of life opportunities. These hardships include illness and death. Of the estimated 1.7 million [1.5 million–1.9 million] people who died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2011, 230,000 [200,000–270,000] of them were children under 15 years of age.



Note: The numbers in parentheses are ranges around the estimates that define the boundaries within which the actual numbers lie, based on the best available information.

Source: UNAIDS, Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, 2012.


In 2011, around 330,000 [280,000–390,000] children were newly infected with HIV, bringing to 3.3 million [3.1 million–3.8 million] the total number of children under 15 living with HIV. More than 90 per cent of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa.


                                        Children under 15 years living with HIV globally, 2011 


Source: UNAIDS, Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, 2012.


Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected by HIV, with southern Africa remaining the area most heavily affected by the epidemic. In 2011, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 69 per cent of people living with HIV worldwide and 72 per cent of the new infections among adults and children. The region also accounted for 71 per cent of the world’s AIDS-related deaths in 2011. Most transmission in this region occurs in heterosexual relationships, both in the context of transactional and commercial sex and in longer-term relationships, including marriage.


As a contrast, in most other regions of the world, HIV disproportionately affects injecting drug users, men who have sex with men and sex workers. The epidemic is evolving, however, and national epidemics throughout the world are experiencing important transitions. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, epidemics that were once distinguished largely by transmission among injecting drug users are now increasingly characterized by significant sexual transmission. In parts of Asia, epidemics are more and more characterized by significant transmission among heterosexual couples. The epidemic in Asia, which has long been concentrated in injecting drug users, sex workers and their clients, and men who have sex with men, is steadily expanding into lower-risk populations through transmission to the sexual partners of those most at risk.


Click on the link to download regional HIV and AIDS estimates, 2011.


Young people aged 15–24 years account for an estimated 39 per cent of new adult HIV infections worldwide. Globally, in 2010, young women aged 15–24 years accounted for approximately 64 per cent of all HIV infections among young people. In sub-Saharan Africa young women aged 15–24 were more than two times more likely to be infected than their male counterparts in 2010. In four regions – South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean and Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) – more young men are HIV positive than young women. This reflects the differences in risk behaviours, which requires that interventions be tailored to fit the nature and dynamic of the epidemic.


Click on the link to download statistics on HIV prevalence among young people by region, 2011.


The ‘Four Ps’: Goal of the Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS Initiative

The Global Campaign, Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS, launched in October 2005, is a concerted effort by the international community to ensure that children and adolescents are effectively included in HIV and AIDS prevention, protection and treatment strategies. The campaign provides a child-focused framework for nationally owned programmes around four main areas, known as the 'Four Ps': 1) Prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV; 2) Provide paediatric treatment; 3) Prevent infection among adolescents and young people; and 4) Protect and support children affected by AIDS.




In 2011, UNAIDS released new global HIV and AIDS estimates in the Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic and the World AIDS Day 2012 - Results that reflect key changes in WHO HIV treatment guidelines for adults and children and for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, improvements in assumptions of the probability of HIV transmission from mother-to-child and net survival rates for infected children.  In addition, there are more reliable data available from population-based survey data, expanded national sentinel surveillance systems and programme service statistics in a number of countries.  


As a result of these changes, comparisons between 2010 estimates and those from previous years cannot be made. The methodological revisions, however, have been applied retrospectively to all earlier HIV prevalence data, so that the estimates of incidence, prevalence and mortality from previous years allow an assessment of trends over time. 
Although the estimates have changed, the qualitative interpretation of the severity and implications of the pandemic has altered little. However, as the resources committed to AIDS and other major health problems continue to increase, more emphasis is required to strengthen systems to collect and analyse data for better quality information to strategically guide programming.


More details on the HIV estimates methodology can be found at the UNAIDS's website.



UNAIDS, Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, 2012.


UNAIDS, World AIDS Day 2012 – Results, 2012.


UNAIDS, Together We Will End AIDS, 2012.


WHO, UNAIDS and UNICEF, Global HIV/AIDS Response: Epidemic update and health sector progress towards universal access, Progress Report 2011, WHO, Geneva, 2011.


UNICEF, UNAIDS, WHO, UNFPA and UNESCO, Children and AIDS: Fifth stocktaking report, 2010, UNICEF, New York, 2010.


UNAIDS, Global AIDS response Progress Reporting 2012: Guidelines, Construction of core indicators for monitoring the 2011 political declaration on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, Geneva, 2011. 


UNAIDS, Global Report: UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic, 2010, UNAIDS, Geneva, 2010.


UNICEF, Progress for Children: Achieving the MDGs with Equity, No. 9, UNICEF, New York, 2010.


UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2011: Adolescence: An age of opportunity, UNICEF, New York, 2011.


UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, ILO, WHO and The World Bank, Opportunity in Crisis: Preventing HIV from early adolescence to young adulthood, UNICEF, New York, 2011.