Date of this Version
It has been 25 years since the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was first described and over 23 years since the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) associated with the disease was first discovered. In spite of the tremendous progress that was made in understanding both the disease and the virus, there are still millions of people infected, died, or living with the disease. As for the year 2005 alone, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (http://www.UNAIDS.org) estimates that there are about 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS globally, and approximately 3 million people died from AIDS in the year. Globally, it is estimated that 25 million people have died of HIV/AIDS since 1981. The impact of the epidemic is enormous, with the greatest impact in sub-Saharan Africa where about two-thirds of those living with HIV/AIDS in the world reside. A number of countries in the region have infection rates to as high as 30-40% of the population. As for South and Southeast Asia, even though the adult prevalence is lower and estimated to be less than 1%, there are still 7.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS in this region, accounting for about 18% of those living with HIV/AIDS in the world.104,114 North America, Latin America, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, each have between 1.2 and 1.8 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Although the 300,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean constitute a small part of the global total, they are about 1.6% of adults in the region, making the Caribbean the only region other than sub-Saharan Africa to have an adult prevalence higher than 1%.104,114 Essentially, no single country can escape from the impact of HIV/AIDS.