Worldwide, more than 33 million people are infected with HIV (the virus
that causes AIDS) and nearly 14 million are already dead of the disease.
To gain a perspective of this global epidemic as it stood worldwide at the close
of 1998, explore the map below and scroll down to see the bulleted information.
The data was drawn from a December 1998 update on the epidemic by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization.
More than 47 million people have been infected by HIV since the epidemic
began in the late 1970s. Nearly 14 million have died of AIDS.
In 1998 alone, AIDS deaths totaled some 2.5 million. Malaria, another of
the world's top five killers, causes over one million deaths a year. But
malaria is a mature epidemic, while AIDS is a still-emerging one whose death
toll rises every year.
By the end of 1998, the number of people living with HIV (the virus that
causes AIDS) had grown to an estimated 33.4 million, which is 10 percent more
than one year before. Globally, 1.1 percent of adults have been infected with
HIV, and they continue to be at the rate of 16,000 a day.
More than 95 percent of all HIV-infected people now live in the developing
world, which has likewise experienced 95 percent of all deaths to date from
Eleven men, women, and children around the world were infected per minute
during 1998—close to six million people in all.
Around half of new HIV infections are in people aged 15 to 24, the range
in which most people start their sexual lives. In 1998, nearly three million
young people became infected with the virus, equivalent to more than five young
men and women every minute of the day, every day of the year.
By the same token, one-tenth of newly infected people were under age 15,
which brings the number of children now alive with HIV to 1.2 million. Most of
them are thought to have acquired their infection from their mother before or
at birth, or through breastfeeding.
Africa, the global epicenter of the epidemic, continues to dwarf the rest
of the world on the AIDS balance sheet. On the continent today, 21.5 million
adults and a further one million children are living with HIV . In 1998 alone,
AIDS will have caused an estimated two million African deaths—5,500 funerals
a day. In addition, at least 95 percent of all AIDS orphans have been
Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest hit (see chart). In 1998, 70 percent of
all people who became infected with HIV, and 80 percent of those who died of
AIDS, came from this region, even though only a tenth of the world's population
lives in Africa south of the Sahara.
In North America and Western Europe, new combinations of anti-HIV
drugs continue to reduce AIDS deaths significantly. In 1997, for example, the
death rate for AIDS in the United States was the lowest in a decade—almost
two-thirds below rates recorded just two years earlier. But since new
infections continue to occur while antiretroviral drug cocktails keep already
infected people alive, the proportion of the population living with HIV has
During 1998, North America and Western Europe recorded no progress in
reducing the number of new infections. During 1998 alone, nearly 75,000 people
became infected with HIV, bringing the total number of North Americans and
Western Europeans living with HIV to almost 1.4 million.
Source: AIDS Epidemic Update—December 1998, published by the Joint
United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health