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Facts & Stats

AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is a condition caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that attacks the immune system, crippling the cells that protect the body from infections. People with AIDS are vulnerable to illnesses that are not usually a threat to anyone whose immune system is intact.

HIV is transmitted through the exchange of certain bodily fluids; blood; semen; pre-ejaculates; vaginal secretions and mother’s milk. This transmission can occur:

Once the virus enters the blood stream it must enter a cell in order to live and reproduce. The virus enters a key type of white blood cell in the immune system called a T Cell. The virus reproduces and destroys the T Cell. The newly produced HIV then moves into a new T Cell and infects it. At first the body makes more T cells to replace the destroyed ones, but after a time (will depend on the individual case) the body cannot keep up production. When this happens the person is said to have developed AIDS. As the immune system fails, the patient becomes more vulnerable to opportunistic infections, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, Kaposi’s sarcoma. About half the people with the HIV infection developed AIDS within 10 years.

Despite the lack of cure, in many cases Anti Retrovirals (ARV’s), including AZT and protease inhibitors, help slow the progression of the AIDS virus. These drugs stop HIV replicating in the T Cells and stop newly produced HIV from infecting other cells. This means that the amount of HIV in body is depleted and the damage done to the immune system is reduced. Improved treatment has extended the life of individuals with the virus. Unfortunately ARV’s are not available to all those who need them. Although the price of ARV’s has been drastically reduced due to public pressure and generic drug companies (which produced cheaper versions) they are still far too expensive for many affected people within the developing world. But, there have been promising trends in treatment coverage. In 2011, ARV therapy reached 8 million people. For the first time, 54% of people eligible for ARV treatment in low- and middle income countries received it. The most effective way of controlling the epidemic is prevention. This means abstaining from sex or practicing safe sex by limiting the number of partners and using condoms consistently. It also includes refraining from injecting drug use or at least not sharing needles or syringes.

The most effective way of controlling the epidemic is prevention. This means abstaining from sex or practicing safe sex by limiting the number of partners and using condoms consistently. It also includes refraining from injection drug use or at least not sharing needles or syringes.

STATISTICS: WORLDWIDE

Based on estimates from the United Nations AIDS Program:

STATISTICS: USA

Within the United States: