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How HIV and AIDS affect populations

Lori S. Ashford

Population Reference Bureau

July 2006

SARPN acknowledges the Population Reference Bureau as a source of this document:
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The AIDS epidemic is one of the most destructive health crises of modern times, ravaging families and communities throughout the world. By 2005, more than 25 million people had died and an estimated 39 million were living with HIV. An estimated 4 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2005—95 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, or Asia. While sub-Saharan Africa has been hardest hit, other regions also face serious AIDS epidemics (see the table and Box 1). In recent years, nationally representative surveys have enabled researchers to lower the previously published HIV prevalence estimates for some countries. But the number of people infected and the effects on their families, communities, and countries are still staggering.1

This policy brief gives an overview of the effects of HIV and AIDS on population size, characteristics, and well-being. It also highlights the major efforts needed to control the epidemic. The pandemic continues to spread worldwide despite prevention efforts and successes in a few countries. Comprehensive approaches to improve reproductive and sexual health will require continued commitment and investment.

  1. UNAIDS, 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic (Geneva: UNAIDS, 2006). New estimates of HIV prevalence are derived from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), which take a representative sample of the total population ages 15-49. In countries without a DHS, HIV estimates arecalculated from antenatal care facilities and other sources not representative of the total population.

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