Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. It is spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an HIV-positive person, such as through sex or sharing injection drug equipment. If left untreated, HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus. There is no effective cure for HIV, but with proper medical care, it can be controlled.‚Äč

State of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in 2020

Image of the globe with select data. See bullets below for data.


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Progress Toward 90-90-90 UNAIDS Goals

In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly committed to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030 using benchmarks meant to galvanize action in closing gaps in HIV testing, the number of patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) and the number of patients maintaining viral suppression. This plan, put forth by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), set ambitious interim goals to be reached by 2020: 90% of HIV infected individuals should know their HIV+ status, 90% of those who know their status should be receiving ART treatment and 90% of those in treatment should have low enough viral loads to be considered virally suppressed.

UNAIDS graphic
Visual representation of UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets.
Source: UNAIDS

Since the establishment of these goals, remarkable, but highly unequal, progress has been made, most notably in the expansion of access to antiretroviral therapy. However, because the achievements have not been shared equally within and between countries, the global HIV targets set for 2020 were not reached, according to UNAIDS report.

In June 2021, United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS adopted a new Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Ending Inequalities and Getting on Track to End AIDS by 2030. The declaration is based on evidence, grounded in human rights, and will serve as an important road map to advance the global HIV response over the next 5 years.

The 2021 declaration includes new targets to ensure that 95% of people at risk for HIV use combination HIV prevention services, a greater emphasis on provision of community-led services—including a target to ensure that 80% of prevention services for key populations are provided by communities—and a commitment to end inequalities, going far beyond the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 10, to reduce inequalities.

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