The HIV/AIDS pandemic
Since scientists identified the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1983, it has spread relentlessly, causing one of the most devastating pandemics ever recorded in human history. More than 40 million people have died due to AIDS-related causes since the pandemic began and millions more are newly infected with the virus each year. However, concerted global efforts to battle the pandemic are making a significant difference. Fifteen million people living with HIV now have access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment. The annual count of AIDS-related deaths has declined since it peaked in the mid 2000s, and the number of new HIV infections each year has declined since its peak in 1997.
Still, AIDS remains among the top 10 leading causes of death, according to the World Health Organization. Every day, more than 5,600 people worldwide become newly infected with HIV, and 3 of 5 HIV-positive people are still not accessing antiretroviral treatment. The most vulnerable and impoverished people in the world continue to bear the heaviest burden of this merciless disease: sub-Saharan Africa accounted for two-thirds of new HIV infections in 2014.
IAVI supports a comprehensive response to this crisis. This includes everything from expanding educational and behavioral HIV-prevention programs to increasing access to treatment and the entire HIV prevention toolbox while addressing the underlying economic disparities and social and cultural phenomena that fuel the epidemic. While there will never be a single solution to HIV and AIDS, mathematical modeling suggests a preventive vaccine would do a great deal to curb the pandemic. IAVI is committed to working with partners in all sectors to speed the development of such vaccines and to ensure that people everywhere have access to them when they become available.