HIV and AIDS Facts - Compassion International

Get the facts about HIV and AIDS and how it affects children and their families.

hiv and aids graphic

The facts about HIV and AIDS reveal a devastating reality that is especially hard on children living in poverty. Even when children themselves don’t have HIV, many are still affected by it. This is especially true for children in sub-Saharan Africa.

While these HIV and AIDS facts can seem overwhelming, we are working to change the reality for those affected by HIV and AIDS. Our AIDS Initiative is attacking the disease head on through education, treatment and rehabilitation.

  • Fifteen countries account for nearly 75 percent of all people living with HIV. 1
  • About 1.8 million children live with HIV, and only half of them receive lifesaving treatment. 4
  • Three-quarters of all deaths associated with HIV among children under 5 occur in just 11 countries. 2
  • There were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016. 3

A young girl is silhouetted in front of a window.

  • In 2016, of the 36.7 million people living with HIV, 2.1 million were children under 15 years of age and about 18.8 million were women and girls. 5
  • Sub-Saharan Africa remains the center of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (25.6 million people living with HIV in 2016). 3
  • Africa accounts for almost two thirds of the global total of new HIV infections. 3
  • In 2016, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 66 percent of people living with HIV worldwide, 64 percent of new HIV infections, and around 70 percent of all AIDS-related deaths. 5
  • Nearly 90 percent of children under the age of 15 newly infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa. 5

Four students stand at the front of classroom with HIV written on the chalkboard.

  • Adolescents aged 15 to 19 account for an estimated 15 percent of new adult HIV infections worldwide. 5
  • Globally, in 2016, adolescent girls accounted for two thirds of all new HIV infections among adolescents. 5
  • In 2016, 1.0 million people died from HIV-related causes globally. 3
  • Of the estimated 1.0 million people who died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2016, 120,000 of them were children under 15 years of age. 5
  • Globally, 1.8 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2016. 3
  • In 2016, around 76 percent pregnant women living with HIV had access to antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. 6

a sign nailed to a tree says beware of aids

  • In 2016, approximately 5,000 people were newly infected with HIV each day and approximately 2,800 people died from AIDS each day. 5
  • It is estimated that only 70 percent of people with HIV know their status. 3
  • 19.5 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2016. 6
  • In 2016, around 53 percent of all people living with HIV had access to treatment. 6
  • As of 2016, roughly 16.5 million children under the age of 18 had lost one or both parents to AIDS. 5
  • Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for around one in three AIDS-related deaths. 6
The Last Mile: How Our AIDS Initiative Works

A boy holds a pink pill in his hand and is ready to put the medication in his mouth.

In the global fight against AIDS, the international community has brought access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART) to many health facilities around the world, but not all. Those lifesaving tablets that travel 10,000 miles sometimes don’t make it the last mile.

How Do the UN Sustainable Development Goals Relate to Compassion?

several children look outside through a window

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) directly parallel what Compassion does. But when it comes to goals and implementation we sometimes take a different approach. This is a quick analysis of the SDGs and how they most closely match our work, along with ways they overlap and differ.


1 UNAIDS, 2014, The Gap Report.

2 UNICEF Strategic Plan 2014-2017.

3 World Health Organization Media Centre Fact sheet N°360. HIV/AIDS, July 2017.

4 UNDP. Human Development Report 2016. Human Development for Everyone.

5 UNICEF, HIV/AIDS: Current Status + Progress, July 2017

6 UNAIDS, Fact Sheet July 2017