• This report also in French and Spanish.

(March 2006) The AIDS epidemic—which may be the most devastating health disaster in human history—continues to ravage families and communities throughout the world. In addition to the 25 million people who had died of AIDS by the end of 2005, at least 40 million people are now living with HIV. And an estimated 4.9 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2005—95 percent of whom lived in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, or Asia.

While some areas have successfully slowed the epidemic, it is surging in others. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimates that only about 15 percent of the 6.5 million people in developing countries who need treatment have access to antiretroviral drugs. And in the most-affected regions, hard-earned improvements in health over the last 50 years have been overwhelmed by death and disability from AIDS. The disease is crippling progress at the personal, family, community, and national levels; it is also threatening economic growth and political stability in the most severely affected nations.

The Global Challenge of HIV and AIDS is an up-to-date overview of the pandemic—covering groups at risk; the health, demographic, social, and economic effects of AIDS; the latest in prevention, care, and treatment; how various aspects of the disease are being managed; and challenges in HIV control. The authors—Peter R. Lamptey, president of the Institute for HIV/AIDS of Family Health International (FHI); Jami L. Johnson, associate technical office at the FHI Institute for HIV/AIDS; and Marya Khan, research associate at the Population Reference Bureau—conclude that that the spread of HIV is due at least in part to the global community’s failure to provide adequate care for millions of people living with HIV.

“In Africa, 150,000 people lose their life every month to a completely avoidable disease,” they write. “The international community and most developing countries have not yet demonstrated they have the will, the commitment, and the resources to implement effective programs to halt HIV and AIDS.”