Around the World

Global Prevalence  

  • Worldwide, there are 16 million women living with HIV, and women make up 50 per cent of all adults living with HIV.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age in developing countries.
  • In 2013, almost 60 per cent of all new HIV infections among young people occurred among adolescent girls and young women; this equals almost 1,000 young women newly infected with HIV every day.
  • There are significant regional differences in the proportion of women living with HIV as compared to men:
    • In sub-Saharan African, women make up 58 per cent of adults living with HIV.
    • In the Middle East and North Africa, women account for 39 per cent of adults living with HIV.
    • In Latin America, 30 per cent of adults living with HIV are women.
    • In the Caribbean, 50 per cent of adults living with HIV are women.
    • In South and South-East Asia, women account for 38 per cent of adults living with HIV in 2013.
    • Women in Asia also account for a growing proportion of HIV infections, up from 21 per cent in 1990 to 38 per cent in 2013.
    • In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, women account for 36 per cent of adults living with HIV.
    • In Western and Central Europe and North America, 22 per cent of adults living with HIV are women.
  • Adolescent girls and young women account for one in four new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa.

Factors that fuel HIV  

  • Violence against women and girls increases their risk of acquiring HIV. A 2010 study in South Africa showed that power imbalances in relationships increased young women's risk of acquiring HIV by 11.9 per cent, and intimate partner violence increased their risk by 13.9 per cent.
  • Women living with HIV often experience violence due to their HIV status, including violations of their sexual and reproductive rights. Involuntary and coerced sterilization and abortion among women living with HIV has been reported in at least 14 countries worldwide.
  • Women’s access to property and inheritance rights can be critical in preventing HIV. A baseline study conducted in nine countries (Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe) found that stigma associated with HIV-positive status meant that women were much less likely to pursue property and inheritance rights violations.
  • Legal norms directly affect women’s risk of acquiring HIV. In many countries where women are most at risk, laws to protect them are weak. A lack of legal rights reinforces the subordinate status of women, especially in relation to women’s rights to divorce, to own and inherit property, to enter into contracts, to sue and testify in court, to consent to medical treatment and to open a bank account.
  • Criminal laws linked to HIV can disproportionately affect women, as they are more likely to be tested and know their status through antenatal care. HIV-positive mothers are criminals under all of the HIV laws of West and Central Africa, which explicitly or implicitly forbid them from being pregnant or breastfeeding, in case they transmit the virus to the fœtus or child.

The response to HIV  

  • HIV treatment coverage in low-, and middle-income countries reached only 34 per cent of people who need it.
  • More than half of the UNAIDS Global Plan’s 21 priority countries are failing to meet the needs for family planning among at least 25 per cent of all married women.
  • Globally, only 21 per cent of female adolescents aged 15-19 have comprehensive knowledge of HIV.
  • Governments increasingly recognize the importance of gender equality in national HIV responses. However, according to UNAIDS, only 57 per cent (of 104 reporting countries) had an HIV strategy that included a specific budget for women.

This information was taken from UN Women 2015 Facts and Figures: HIV and AIDS