Current Status + Progress
The AIDS epidemic continues to take a staggering toll, especially in sub-Saharan Africa

An estimated 36.7 million people were living with HIV worldwide in 2015. Of these, 1.8 million were children under 15 years of age and about 17.8 million were women and girls. Each day that year, approximately 5,700 people were newly infected with HIV and approximately 3,000 people died from AIDS-related causes, mostly because of inadequate access to HIV prevention care and treatment services. However, new HIV infections among children are declining rapidly – approximately 70 per cent since 2001 – largely due to scaled-up efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

The toll of HIV and AIDS continues to be harsh, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2015, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for the vast majority of the world’s people living with AIDS, new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. In that region, HIV is spread primarily through heterosexual sex. In 2015, nearly three times more adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa were newly infected with HIV than boys in the same age group (15 to 19 years).


As of 2015, roughly 13.4 million children under the age of 18 had lost one or both parents to AIDS. Millions more have been affected by the epidemic, through a heightened risk of poverty, homelessness, school dropout, discrimination and loss of opportunities. These hardships include prolonged illness and death. Of the estimated 1.1 million people who died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2015, 110,000 were children under 15 years of age.

The global AIDS epidemic continues to affect millions of people, regardless of their age or sex

Global HIV and AIDS epidemiological estimates for 2015

Global Summary of the AIDS Epidemic, 2015

People living with HIV

All ages

36.7 million [34.0 million–39.8 million]

Adults (aged 15+)

34.9 million [32.4 million–37.9 million]

Women (aged 15+)

17.8 million [16.4 million–19.4 million]

Children (aged 0–14)

1.8 million [1.5 million–2.0 million]

Adolescents (aged 10–19)

1.8 million [1.5 million–2.0 million]

People newly infected with HIV

All ages

2.1 million [1.8 million–2.4 million]

Adults (aged 15+)

1.9 million [1.7 million–2.2 million]

Women (aged 15+)

900,000 [800,000–1.0 million]

Children (aged 0–14)

150,000 [110,000–190,000]

Adolescents (aged 15–19)

250,000 [190,000–330,000]

AIDS-related deaths

All ages

1.1 million [940,000–1.3 million]

Adults (aged 15+)

1.0 million [840,000–1.2 million]

Women (aged 15+)

420,000 [350,000–490,000]

Children (aged 0–14)

110,000 [84,000–130,000]

Adolescents (aged 10–19)

41,000 [33,000–52,000]

Note: The numbers in brackets are ranges around the estimates that define the boundaries within which the actual numbers lie, based on the best available information.

Source: UNAIDS, 2016 HIV and AIDS estimates, July 2016.

In 2015, around 150,000 children were newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of children under age 15 living with HIV to 1.8 million. Nearly 90 per cent of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. One bright spot on the global horizon is the rapid decline of approximately 70 per cent in new HIV infection among children (aged 0–14) since 2001, largely due to stepped-up efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

The good news: New HIV infections in children are declining rapidly
Percentage of pregnant women living with HIV receiving most effective antiretroviral medicines for PMTCT and new HIV infections among children (aged 0–14), 21 sub-Saharan African Global Plan countries, 2000–2015

Source: UNAIDS 2016 estimates, July 2016


Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Southern Africa, remains the region most heavily affected by the epidemic. In 2014, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 70 per cent of people living with HIV worldwide, 73 per cent of new HIV infections, and 67 per cent of all AIDS-related deaths. HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, is mostly spread through heterosexual relationships, both in the context of transactional and commercial sex and in longer-term relationships, including marriage.

In most other regions of the world, HIV disproportionately affects persons who inject drugs, men who have sex with men and sex workers. The epidemic is evolving, however, transmission patterns are changing throughout the world. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, HIV epidemics that were once distinguished largely by transmission among persons who inject drugs are now increasingly characterized by significant sexual transmission. In parts of Asia, HIV is transmitted more and more among heterosexual couples. In Asia as a whole, HIV epidemics have long been concentrated in persons who inject drugs, sex workers and their clients and men who have sex with men. Now, infections are steadily spreading into lower-risk populations through transmission to the sexual partners of those most at risk.

Adolescents aged 15 to 19 account for an estimated 12 per cent of new HIV infections worldwide. Globally, in 2015, adolescent girls made up over 65 per cent of all new HIV infections among adolescents. In sub-Saharan Africa that year, nearly three times as many adolescent girls were newly infected with HIV than adolescent boys. In only two UNICEF regions – Latin America and the Caribbean and South Asia – are more adolescent boys newly infected with HIV each year than adolescent girls. This reflects differences in risk behaviour in these regions, which means that interventions must be tailored to the specific nature and dynamic of the epidemic.

Approximately 80 per cent of adolescents living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa
Estimated percentage of adolescents (aged 10─19) living with HIV, by UNICEF region, 2015

Source: UNAIDS 2016 estimates, July 2016

For information on UNICEF’s programme and policy work on HIV and AIDS, click here.

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Key Regional Charts and Figures - East Asia and the PacificDownload Data
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Key Regional Charts and Figures - Latin America and the CaribbeanDownload Data
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Recent Resources

For Every Child, End AIDS: Seventh Stocktaking Report, 2016

Nov 30, 2016

Children are still dying of AIDS-related causes.  Children living with HIV (aged 0–4) face the highest risk of AIDS-related death compared to all other age groups. The AIDS-response must focus on solutions for this extremely vulnerable population. Preventing new infections, but also testing and starting treatment early are the best ways to end AIDS among the youngest children. In an age when the tools and knowledge are at hand to prevent and treat HIV in children, new infections and deaths among this age group reflect a collective failure to prioritise children.

Download executive summary | Download report

Children & AIDS: 2015 Statistical Update

Nov 27, 2015

At the turn of the century, and the beginning of the Millennium Development Goals, an HIV diagnosis was equivalent to a death sentence for most children and their families in low-income countries. But now, an early diagnosis paired with treatment and care can ensure long healthy lives, regardless of location, and can help prevent transmission of HIV to others. Since 2000, 30 million new infections were prevented, nearly 8 million deaths averted, and 15 million people living with HIV are now receiving treatment.

Download executive summary

Redefining childhood vulnerability to HIV (policy brief)

Feb 1, 2015

Childhood vulnerability cuts across all development programming and planning, including the sectors of HIV and AIDS, education, health, child protection and social protection.  Understanding indicators of childhood vulnerability in general and to HIV in particular, could help practitioners identify vulnerable children more accurately and spend money accordingly.

Download brochure (PDF)

Towards an AIDS-free generation – Children and AIDS Stocktaking Report, 2013

Jan 1, 2013

An AIDS-free generation means a generation in which all children are born free of HIV and remain so for the first two decades of life, from birth through adolescence.

Download full report (PDF)
Notes on the Data


In an effort to harmonize data collection and minimize the reporting burden on countries, UNAIDS, WHO and UNICEF have developed a joint reporting tool. The tool, which has been translated into several UN languages, combines the Global AIDS Response Progress Reporting and Universal Access reporting on the health sector response to HIV/AIDS. Countries that have not yet begun using the tool are advised to download the latest version. Accompanying guidelines support countries in using the tool and provide detailed descriptions of the indicators used.

  • For more information, click here.
  • For Global AIDS Response Progress Reporting/Universal Access reporting guidelines, click here.
  • To view the latest version of the reporting tool, click here.
  • To view a list of indicators, click here.


UNAIDS, WHO and UNICEF are using Futures Institute’s modelling software, Spectrum/EPP, to generate estimates, which support policy decisions concerning public health. Spectrum includes modules for HIV estimates and projectors.

  • For more information, click here.
  • For estimates methodology, click here.


Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), AIDS Indicator Surveys (AIS), reproductive health surveys, sexual behaviour surveys and other nationally representative surveys are currently used to collect data on HIV and AIDS.