AIDS still a fact of life and death

Published December 1, 2005

Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day. Seventeen years after the United Nations declared it as a day for remembering the victims, increasing awareness, and fighting prejudice against HIV-AIDS, the disease has not gone away.

As Canadian Anglicans join churches and advocacy groups around the world in marking World AIDS Day, the Anglican Journal gathered some figures and facts about the disease.


  • The Caribbean has the world’s second highest HIV prevalence rate; the highest HIV-infection levels among women in the Americas are in the Caribbean;
  • HIV-AIDS has become the leading cause of death in the Caribbean among people aged 15-44;
  • 95 per cent of people living with HIV-AIDS come from low and middle-income countries;
  • The fastest-growing AIDS epidemics are in East Asia (a rise of 50 per cent from 2002-2004), Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (a rise of 40 per cent from the same period);
  • The number of people living with HIV continues to grow – from 35 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2003, to 39.4 million in 2004;
  • Between 80 and 85 per cent of HIV-AIDS cases are the result of unprotected sexual intercourse;
  • High-risk behaviour is on the rise in high-income countries, where the antiretroviral therapy is widely available, and new infections are being noted. In North America, the number of HIV-positive people was estimated at 950,000 in 2001; in 2003, the number was one million. Europe saw an increase of 40,000 new cases (from 540,000 in 2001 to 580,000 in 2003);
  • A 20 per cent increase in HIV-positive tests have been reported in the last five years in Canada (from 2,111 in 2000 to 2,529 in 2004);
  • Over one quarter of HIV-positive test reports in Canada in 2004 were among women, a notable rise from the years prior to 1995, where they represented less than 10 per cent;
  • The proportion of HIV-positive mothers receiving antiretroviral therapy in Canada reached a high of 96 per cent in 2004.



  • 39.4 million, the number of people around the world living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome);
  • 25 million of people living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa; 10 million of them are young people aged 15 to 24; this region holds just over 10 per cent of the world’s population but is home to more than 60 per cent of HIV cases and more than three quarters of all women living with HIV;
  • More than 20 million people have died of AIDS since it was first identified in 1981;
  • 15 million children have been orphaned by HIV-AIDS;
  • 12 million new infections are estimated in Asia between 2005 and 2010; Asian nations have huge populations that even low national HIV prevalence translates into millions of people living with HIV;
  • 5 million, the number of people newly infected with HIV in 2004 alone;
  • 3 million, the number of people who died of HIV-AIDS in 2004;
  • 57,674, the number of HIV-positive cases in Canada from November 1985 to December 2004;
  • 13,500, the number of new HIV infections per day around the world;
  • 2,005 infants in Canada have been identified as perinatally exposed to HIV, born between 1984 and 2004. HIV-exposed infants reported per birth year has increased from 87 in 1993 to 163 in 2004. HIV-exposed infants whose mothers’ HIV status was attributed to exposure through heterosexual contact constituted 70.6 per cent of cases; 27.7 per cent were attributed to injecting drug use;
  • Only 1 in 5 people have access to basic HIV prevention services;
  • Only 1 in 10 people living with HIV have been tested for the virus;
  • Only 1 million people living with HIV are receiving antiretroviral therapy in developing countries, which means that only 15 per cent of those needing treatment receive it;
  • $22 billion would be needed in 2008 to reverse the spread of AIDS in the developing world.


Sources: UNAIDS, CIDA, Reuters Alertnet, Public Health Agency of Canada


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