Some of you may be asking, "Just how bad is the global AIDS crisis?" As mentioned in the first post, AIDS has taken the lives of more than 25 million people since it was first recognized as a health issue in 1981. Overall, there are currently 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS, 1 million of which are in the United States. In 2007 alone, an estimated 2.7 million became newly infected with HIV with 68% of that being in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, another estimated 2.1 million died of HIV/AIDS-related causes.

Africa, by itself, has an estimated 11.6 million orphans who lost their parents to AIDS-related illnesses. There are 15 million AIDS orphans globally. To put things further into perspective for you, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide (59% in sub-Saharan Africa) at the end of 2007, and young people (those under the age of 25) accounted for 50% (yes, half!) of all new HIV infections worldwide. In subsequent posts, we will be looking at further HIV data, breaking it down by gender, age, and region.

In terms of treatment, there are 9.7 million people in developing and transitional countries who are in desperate need of life-saving AIDS medication. Tragically, only 2.99 million of these people are actually receiving the medication.

The most unfortunate part of reading the above statistics is the fact that the numbers primarily reflect only people who have been diagnosed, or at least tested, and their status reported. No one knows the total number of individuals worldwide who may be infected, unaware of their HIV status or unable to get any assistance or resources, and their infection not reported. Even though there is progress being made in order to increase the access of HIV-infected persons worldwide to anti-retroviral (ARV) medication (the main treatment for HIV/AIDS), as well as funding for researching a cure, there is still so much work left to be done.