AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
As a result of recent advances in access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV-positive people now live longer and healthier lives. In addition, it has been confirmed that ART prevent onward transmission of HIV.
Correct information is the key to understanding and preventing HIV and AIDS.
Myths can be harmful. Getting the facts about HIV and AIDS can lead to better health and better living with HIV.
HIV is not the same as AIDS.
HIV tests are reliable.
HIV cannot be cured.
There is no vaccine to prevent HIV.
People with HIV should start HIV medicine right away.
You cannot know if your partner has HIV unless he or she is tested.
You (or your partner) need to wear a condom during sex, even if you are both HIV-positive.
Women can give HIV to men.
A pregnant woman with HIV can lower the chance of passing HIV to her unborn baby to less than 1%.
You can get HIV from sharing needles or getting tattoos or body piercings.
HIV is not spread by mosquitoes, sweat, tears, pools, or casual contact
*your risk for getting HIV is higher if you:*
Have unprotected sex
Have injected illegal drugs, either now or in the past
Had sex with someone to get money or drugs in return or with someone who has traded sex for money or drugs
Share or use unsterilised sharp objects.
Key ways to prevent HIV transmission:
practice safe sexual behaviours such as using condoms;
get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV to prevent onward transmission;
avoid injecting drugs, or if you do, always use sterile needles and syringes;
ensure that any blood or blood products that you might need are tested for HIV;
access voluntary medical male circumcision if you live in one of the 14 countries where this intervention is promoted;
if you have HIV start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible for your own health and to prevent HIV transmission to your sexual or drug using partner or to your infant (if you are pregnant or breastfeeding);
use pre-exposure prophylaxis prior to engaging in high risk behaviour;demand post-exposure prophylaxis if there is the risk that you have been exposed to HIV infection in both occupational and non-occupational settings;
*36.7 million people are living with HIV worldwide.*
Globally, an estimated 36.7 million (34.0–39.8 million) people were living with HIV in 2015, and 1.8 million (1.5–2.0 million) of these were children. The vast majority of people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 2.1 million (1.8–2.4 million) people were newly infected with with HIV in 2015. An estimated 35 million people have died from HIV-related causes so far, including 1.1 million (940 000–1.3 million) in 2015
*Combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents HIV from multiplying in the body*
If the reproduction of HIV stops, then the body’s immune cells are able to live longer and provide the body with protection from infections. Effective ART results in a reduction in viral load, the amount of virus in the body, greatly reducing the risk of transmitting the virus sexual partners. If the HIV positive partner in a couple is on effective ART, the likelihood of sexual transmission to the HIV-negative partner can be reduced by as much as 96%. Expanding coverage of HIV treatment contributes to HIV prevention efforts.
*HIV testing can help to ensure treatment for people in need*
Access to HIV testing and medicines should be dramatically accelerated in order to reach the goal of ending AIDS by 2030. HIV testing reach is still limited, as an estimated 40% of people with HIV or over 14 million people remain undiagnosed and don’t know their infection status. WHO is recommending innovative HIV-self-testing and partner notification approaches to increase HIV testing services among undiagnosed people.
*An estimated 1.8 million children are living with HIV*
According to 2015 figures most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected through transmission from their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
*Elimination of mother-to-child-transmission is becoming a reality*
Access to preventive interventions remains limited in many low- and middle-income countries. But progress has been made in some areas such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and keeping mothers alive. In 2015, almost 8 out of 10 pregnant women living with HIV – 1.1 million women – received antiretrovirals worldwide. In 2015, Cuba was the first country declared by WHO as having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. In June 2016, 3 other countries: Armenia, Belarus and Thailand were also validated for eliminating mother-to-child HIV.
*HIV is the greatest risk factor for developing active TB disease*
In 2015, an estimated 1.2 million (11%) of the 10.4 million people who developed TB worldwide were HIV-positive. In the same year approximately 390 000 deaths from tuberculosis occurred among people living with HIV. The WHO African Region accounted for around 75% of the estimated number of HIV-related TB deaths.
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