Published on Data Blog

The Global State of AIDS in 4 Charts

Yesterday was World Aids Day - an annual event to raise awareness about HIV and the global fight against it. When it comes to international data about HIV and AIDS, the cross-organisational UNAIDS program publishes age and gender disaggregated data on indicators such as prevalence, new infections and deaths. In turn, we incorporate some of these data into the World Development Indicators

Here are some highlights from the data that have been released:

1) There are more adults and children living with HIV than ever before

In 2012, there were an estimated 35.3 million adults and children living with HIV in the world. The majority of these people are in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. As you can see from the decreasing slope of the “global” line - while people continue to become infected, the rate of new infections is going down.

2) Globally, the rate of new infections has fallen 38% since the peak in 1997

Worldwide, 2.3 million adults and children became newly infected with HIV in 2012 - that’s down 38% from the peak of 3.7 million in 1997. This is real progress: an ongoing reduction in the rate of new infections will lead to a decrease in the number of people living with and dying from HIV.

3) AIDS-related deaths have also fallen by 30% to 1.6 million since the peak in 2005

In 2012, 1.6 million people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide  - a 30% reduction from the peak of 2.3 million in 2005. According to the WHO there are two main causes for this decline: the increased availability of antiretroviral therapy (ARV) and associated care for those living with HIV; and fewer people newly infected with HIV since the peak in 1997.

Note that in the last three charts I’ve used the UN regional country aggregations - the World Bank aggregates countries into regions differently and we don’t include some series in the World Development Indicators. I also excluded regions in the charts above where there have been relatively low HIV numbers since 1990 - you can still see them in the data via the links within the charts.

4) HIV has a marked impact on life expectancy in Sub Saharan African countries

If you read Neil and Emi’s blog on life expectancy you’ll know that the statistic “life expectancy at birth” is actually a measure of the overall “mortality characteristics” in a given year for a population. That means if HIV is having a big effect in a population, we should see it in the life expectancy numbers.

Compare the global upwards trend in life expectancy to trends in countries in Sub Saharan Africa most heavily affected by HIV. In 1987, the life expectancy in Zimbabwe was almost 62. At the height of the epidemic in 2003, this had dropped 30% to 43 and now with a decline in HIV prevalence is starting to go back up. You can seen similar trends in other countries.

What else do you want to know?

These are just some highlights I picked up from the UNAIDS fact sheet. There are several other things I’d be interested in knowing about but I couldn't immediately find the data for them.

For example, the fact sheet notes that: “US $18.9 billion was available from all sources for the AIDS response in 2012.” I’d like to know what this has looked like over time, which sources it came from, and how it corresponds with some of the improvements seen above. I’m also interested in ARV use in different countries and some of the technical challenges in implementing effective health programs.

What HIV/AIDS related data are you interested in?


Tariq Khokhar

Global Data Editor & Senior Data Scientist

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