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World AIDS Day --- December 1, 2009

Since 1998, World AIDS Day has drawn attention to the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) pandemic. The global theme for this year's observance on December 1 is Universal Access and Human Rights.

Various biologic, cultural, and political factors combine to make women especially vulnerable to HIV. In 2008, an estimated 16.5 million women worldwide were living with HIV infection, and women and girls accounted for nearly 60% of new infections (1). Additional programs are needed to reduce the risk for infection in women, including programs that reduce economic dependence and gender-based violence and increase legal protections and educational opportunities for women and girls (1).

Worldwide, progress continues in providing access to treatment. At the end of 2008, approximately 4 million persons in low- and middle-income countries were receiving antiretroviral therapy, an increase of 36% from the previous year (2).

In the United States, in 2006, an estimated 1.1 million persons were living with HIV infection (3), and 56,300 persons were newly infected (4). HIV infection in the United States disproportionately affects blacks, Hispanics, and men who have sex with men (3,4).


  1. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and World Health Organization. AIDS epidemic update 2009. Available at Accessed November 24, 2009.
  2. World Health Organization. Towards universal access: scaling up priority HIV/AIDS interventions in the health sector: progress report 2009. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2009. Available at
  3. CDC. HIV prevalence estimates---United States, 2006. MMWR 2008;57:1073--6.
  4. Hall HI, Song R, Rhodes P, et al; HIV Incidence Surveillance Group. Estimation of HIV incidence in the United States. JAMA 2008;300:520--9.

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Date last reviewed: 11/25/2009


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