Infectious diseases

Fighting AIDS

Condoms for sale at a kiosk in Bujumbura, Burundi

AIDS is an acronym for "acquired immune deficiency syndrome". It is a syndrome that develops out of infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys certain blood cells that are critical to our immune defences. The time between initial contraction of HIV and the outbreak of the HIV-related diseases can vary from a few months to many years. We only refer to AIDS when sufferers show the typical symptoms that indicate a collapse of their immune system.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) regularly publishes reports and statistics on the latest developments concerning HIV and AIDS. The reliable data currently available refer to year 2018. In that year, approximately 37.9 million people were living with HIV worldwide, of whom 1.7 million were children under the age of 15. Around 1.7 million people were newly infected with the immunodeficiency virus in 2018 and about 770,000 people died of AIDS.

Pandemic slowed but not stopped

The efforts to combat HIV have led to some encouraging advances in recent years. Both the number of new infections and the number of AIDS-related deaths have fallen considerably. Prevention efforts in developing and emerging countries have been redoubled. And as for people already living with HIV, more and more are now gaining access to antiretroviral drugs that inhibit virus replication and significantly raise life expectancy.

Yet the spread of HIV has not yet been stopped. Every day, almost 4,700 people are still becoming newly infected. And every day, more than 2,000 people around the world are still dying of AIDS.

Educating and providing access to drugs

Our efforts must again be further strengthened if we are to end the AIDS epidemic. It is a push that requires greater political support from governments, more information and education on HIV/AIDS, easier access to condoms, improved medical care, and wider availability of affordable antiretroviral drugs. To this end, the strategies, programmes and services at work in the fields of HIV/AIDS, sexuality and family planning, and gender equality must be more closely interlinked and better coordinated.

For details on Germany’s activities in this area go to Issues: HIV/AIDS

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