World AIDS Day

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Today marks the 20th observance of World AIDS Day, an annual worldwide event established to increase awareness and education of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).


In 2007, an estimated 33.2 million people were living with HIV worldwide. In North America, Western and Central Europe, the total number of people living with HIV is increasing, mainly due to [1]:

… the life-prolonging effects of antiretroviral therapy and an increase in the number of new HIV diagnoses in Western Europe since 2002, combined with a relatively stable number of new HIV infections each year in North America.

With widespread access to effective antiretroviral treatment, only 32,000 people died of AIDS in these regions in 2007. In contrast, in Asia, approximately 300,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2007.

The United States is one of the countries with the largest number of HIV infections in the world. In the U.S., an estimated 1 million people were living with HIV [2]. Approximately 25% of these HIV-positive individuals are unaware of their infection. Racial and ethnic minorities continue to be disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. African Americans represent only 13% of the population, yet they accounted for 48% of new HIV or AIDS diagnoses in 2005 [1].

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information on World AIDS Day.


  1. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and World Health Organization (WHO). 2007 AIDS epidemic update. Geneva, Switzerland: UNAIDS/WHO; 2007.
  2. Glynn and Rhodes. Estimated HIV prevalence in the United States at the end of 2003. Programs and abstracts of the 2005 National HIV Prevention Conference; June 12–15, 2005; Atlanta, GA.
    View Abstract
About the Author

Walter Jessen is a senior writer for Highlight HEALTH Media.