World AIDS Day on 1 December draws together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The Day is one of the most visible opportunities for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high prevalence countries and around the world.
There are now 33.4 million people living with HIV, according to 2008 figures released by WHO. An estimated 2.7 million were newly infected with the virus and 2 million died of AIDS the same year. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected by HIV. In 2008, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 67% of HIV infections worldwide, 68% of new HIV infections among adults and 91% of new HIV infections among children. The region also accounted for 72% of the world’s AIDS-related deaths in 2008.