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HIV & AIDS Vulnerable Groups

A child orphaned by AIDS in ZambiaAIDS is caused by HIV, a virus that can be passed from person to person through sexual fluids, blood and breast milk. Worldwide the majority of HIV infections are transmitted through sex between men and women, and half of all adults living with HIV are women. Certain groups of people have been particularly affected and these include injecting drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men.

As a sexually transmitted infection, HIV particularly affects adolescents and young adults. 2,400 new infections occur among young people aged between 15-24 every day, and people in this age group account for 40 percent of all new adult HIV infections. 1 Deaths of young adults have an especially damaging impact on their families and communities: skills are lost, workforces shrink and children are orphaned. In some African countries, life expectancies have fallen below 40 years, whereas they would have been above 60 without AIDS. There are around 16.6 million children who have lost a parent to AIDS.

From this page you can access comprehensive information on the major groups most at risk of and affected by HIV and AIDS; including women, children, orphans, men who have sex with men and prisoners. What makes these individuals vulnerable to HIV, the need for targeted interventions, and a detailed analysis of the impact of HIV on communities, households and family structures is also covered.

Apart from inadequate funding, other major obstacles in tackling the global HIV and AIDS epidemic include weak infrastructure and shortages of health workers in the worst affected countries. Political or cultural attitudes are also significant: for example some authorities are opposed to condom promotion, while others refuse to support needle exchanges for injecting drug users. Many are reluctant to provide young people with adequate education about sex and sexual health.

Another very serious issue is stigma and discrimination. People known to be living with HIV are often shunned or abused by community members, employers and even health workers. As well as causing much personal suffering, this sort of prejudice discourages people from seeking HIV testing, treatment and care, undermining efforts to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS.

This page directs you to comprehensive information about these HIV and AIDS issues. Move through the topics section to uncover personal experiences of stigma and discrimination and evidence of how it is undermining efforts to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS.



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