HIV/AIDS Overview

HIV/AIDS has hit Sub-Saharan Africa harder than any other world region ― destroying lives, deepening poverty and hampering the overall advancement of nations. Africa's first cases of HIV/AIDS were identified in 1983. By the late 1990s, AIDS had become Africa's leading cause of death. By 2007, some 22.5 million Sub-Saharan Africans were living with HIV or AIDS; and strikingly, 61 percent of Africa's AIDS victims are women.

Sub-Saharan Africa has 11 percent of the world's population but:

  • 68 percent of all people living with HIV or AIDS (including nearly 90 percent of all children living with HIV or AIDS)
  • 68 percent of 2007's new HIV infections
  • 76 percent of 2007's AIDS-related deaths
  • 80 percent of all AIDS orphans

Not “only” the percentages, but also the actual numbers of HIV/AIDS sufferers, new infections, deaths and orphans in Africa are the highest in the world.

And Southern Africa remains the epicenter of the AIDS pandemic. In 2007, the Southern African region had one-third of all HIV/AIDS cases in the world.

Yet there are indications of improvement. Notes the 2007 AIDS Epidemic Update (UNAIDS): “Downward trends in HIV prevalence are occurring in a number of countries, where prevention efforts aimed at reducing new HIV infections since 2000 and 2001 are showing results. In most of sub-Saharan Africa, national HIV prevalence has either stabilized or is showing signs of a decline.”

Statistics: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 2007; UNFPA (population) .