The number of people living well with HIV has increased, in the UK and around the world, mostly because of the introduction of effective HIV treatment.
The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reported that, at the end of 2012, there were 33.5 million people living with HIV worldwide. This is an increase on previous years as people are living longer because of effective HIV treatment. In 2012, there were an estimated 2.3 million new HIV infections. New HIV infections have fallen by 33% since 2001. From 2001 to 2012, the number of children newly infected with HIV dropped by 52% – from 550,000 in 2001 to 260,000 in 2012.
The worst-affected region is sub-Saharan Africa. In some African countries, over 20 per cent of adults have HIV. The fastest spread of HIV is happening in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The number of people dying of AIDS-related causes fell in 2012 to 1.6 million. This is down from a peak of 2.3 million in 2005.
Globally, in 2012, 9.7 million people were getting treatment in low- and middle-income countries. In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) amended its guidelines to recommend that treatment is started much earlier, or even immediately. This means that 28.6 million people were eligible for treatment in 2013.
In the UK, it has been estimated that 98,400 people were living with HIV at the end of 2012, of whom about a fifth (22 per cent) did not know they had HIV. HIV in the UK affects some communities more than others. Of those living with HIV, 41,000 were gay men and 53,000 had been infected through heterosexual sex. Many of those infected heterosexually are black African people. In total, 2,200 people were infected through injecting drug use.
During 2012, there were 6360 new diagnoses of HIV in the UK. Of these people, 14% had become infected in the last six months. The number of new diagnoses among people born in Africa reduced from 42 per cent in 2008 to 29 per cent in 2012. In 2012, 51% of new infections were in men who have sex with men (MSM), the highest number ever reported. This may be partly explained by more people being tested. The proportion of people being diagnosed late (when HIV has already done serious damage to their immune system) has gone down overall, although it went up slightly in MSM.
Just over 77,600 people were receiving HIV treatment and care in 2012 and 95 per cent attended HIV services regularly.
The number of people living with HIV aged over 50 has been increasing. Worldwide, about 3.6 million people with HIV are aged 50 years or older. The majority (2.9 million) are in low-and middle-income countries where more than 10 per cent of adults living with HIV are 50 years or older. In high-income countries, around one third of adults living with HIV are 50 years or older – in the UK it is one quarter (25 per cent).
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This article was last reviewed on
by R. Bignami
Date due for the next review: 1/7/2016
Content Author: S. Corkery (NAM)
Current Owner: G. Hughson (NAM)
UNAIDS Global Report: UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic 2013
UNAIDS AIDS by the numbers 2013
Aghaizu A, Brown AE, Nardone A, Gill ON, Delpech VC & contributors. HIV in the United Kingdom 2013 Report: data to end 2012. November 2013. Public Health England, London:
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