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What is HIV/AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) destroys or impairs the immune system of the people it infects. As the immune system weakens individuals become more at risk to infections. As condition progresses, the immune system becomes weaker and the individual becomes more at risk to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the most advanced stage of HIV.  Because of advances in medicines called antiretroviral drugs, many people with HIV live for 15 years or more before symptoms of AIDS appear.

In 2009, the World Health Organization estimated that 33million people were infected with HIV, the majority of cases (22 million) of which were in Sub-Saharan Africa. The global health community is actively working to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic on several levels:

  • Education and outreach to stop the spread of HIV
  • Research to develop new drugs to both prevent infection and address the symptoms of those already infected
  • Support for children and families who have been affected through the loss of one or both parents

The most successful programs, however, have been efforts to make available antiretroviral drugs that are often expensive. According to the World Health Organization,an estimated 6.6 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS at the end of 2010. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, has been instrumental in making this possible.

non-PEPFAR HHS HIV/AIDS Activities

HHS is actively engaged through its operating divisions in support of HIV/AIDS programs in addition to its PEPFAR activities.  The National Institutes of Health's Office of AIDS Research (OAR) and Fogarty International Center (FIC) coordinate and monitor international HIV/AIDS research as well as train domestic and international researchers to support the science of AIDS prevention and treatment.  In addition NIH's National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease is diligently working to develop a vaccine for the HIV virus in partnership with international partners such as GAVI Alliance , International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and the Gates Foundation .

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention work with host national partners at the governmental and non-governmental level to advance their health systems for a sustained-country owned HIV/AIDS response.

The HHS/Office of Global Affairs works in partnership with HHS and non-HHS partners to harmonize both PEPFAR and non-PEPFAR HIV/AIDS programs around the world.

Links to Information and Resources about HIV/AIDS

U.S. Government Links

World Health Organization