"When I started my career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the mid-1980s, AIDS was a newly discovered virus and people counseled me to stay away. They said it was just a medical curiosity that would be quickly solved and never have major public health importance. I didn't listen to them and made AIDS the focus of my work." 

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  • Since HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was discovered in 1981, it has infected more than 75 million people and claimed more than 36 million lives.
  • There were 35.3 million people in the world living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in 2012. 
  • In 2012, 2.3 million people became new-infected with HIV.
  • That same year, 1.6 million people worldwide died from AIDS-related causes.
  • The good news is that new HIV infections have fallen by 33 percent since 2001.
  • And new infections among children have declined 52 percent during the same period.

In Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, young adults are experiencing an HIV and AIDS epidemic that is placing their generation in even more danger after years of conflict.

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Since HIV – the disease that causes AIDS – was identified in 1981, more than 60 million people have been infected – and 25 million have died AIDS-related deaths, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.

Women are at a higher risk for infection than men – in part due to anatomy but also because of gender inequality and sexual abuse. And hundreds of children are born with every day with the disease transmitted from their mothers.

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In developed countries like the United States your earning potential is often based on the number of diplomas you have. But in rural Malawi, completing even a primary education is one of the most precious things anyone can achieve. For most girls there, getting even that single diploma is a rarity.

With a higher value placed on working in the fields, fetching water and helping take care of younger siblings, education lags behind for girls.

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Test Your Knowledge! Write down the answers and check them at the bottom of the page.

1. Which country has the largest population (5.6 million) of people living with HIV?

A. South Africa

B. Cambodia

C. Ethiopia

2. Which percent of children who need treatment have actually received it?

A. 12%

B. 65%

C. 23%