Ten things you may not know about AIDS

The impact of HIV and AIDS. Credit: CAFOD

The impact of HIV and AIDS. Credit: CAFOD

We mark World AIDS Day on 1 December. Here are some HIV/AIDS facts you may not know, taken from a recent speech by Caritas special advisor on HIV/AIDS, Msgr Robert J Vitillo.

  1. The impact and consequences of HIV have exceeded those resulting from every other epidemic in the history of our world, including that of the Medieval Black Plague and the Influenza Epidemic of 1918.
  2. In 2014, 36.9 million people were living with HIV in the world. This number continues to grow since improvements in healthcare mean people are living longer with HIV infection.
  3. Although the international community has attained the goal of providing access to anti-retroviral medications to 15 million HIV-positive people by 2015, another 60 percent of this population still has need of these medicines.
  4. In 2001, the life expectancy of persons living with AIDS was 36 years; in 2015 it is 55 years.
  5. With 25.8 million people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa, this region remains as the most heavily affected by the epidemic.
  6. Young people aged 15–24 years represent 34 percent of newly infected persons. In 2014 sub-Saharan Africa they accounted for 66 percent of all new HIV infections.
  7. Although 80 percent of people living with HIV live in only 20 countries, located mostly in Africa, but also in Asia, Europe, North America, and Latin America, the HIV epidemic continues to affect every corner of the world.
  8. In 2001, the cost of these live-saving medicines was US$10,000 (€9426) US dollars per year per person; presently, the cost for such medicines in low-income countries is US$100 (€94) per year.
  9. Moreover, since 2011, due to intensified efforts at early diagnosis and treatment for women of child-bearing age, we have been able to reduce transmission of the virus from mother-to-child by 58 percent.
  10. As of July 2014, there were 38 countries, territories and areas with restrictions on the entry, stay or residence of people living with HIV.


Please give to Caritas generously. Your support makes our work possible.


Caritas brought together a collection of prayers and reflections for you to use.


Volunteers make a crucial contribution. Find out how you can be one.