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What is HIVAIDS AIDS is a chronic life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus HIV By damaging or destroying the cells of your immune system HIV interferes with your bodys ability to effectively fight off viruses bacteria and fungi that cause disease This makes you more susceptible to opportunistic infections your body would normally resist such as pneumonia and meningitis and to certain types of cancers The virus and the infection itself are known as HIV The term AIDS acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is used to mean the latter stages of HIV infection But both the terms HIV and AIDS refer to the same disease HIV is most commonly spread by sexual contact with an infected partner It can also spread through infected blood and shared needles or syringes contaminated with the virus Untreated women with HIV also can pass the infection to their babies during pregnancy delivery or through their breast milk Sadly almost everyone in the human community has been or will be touched in some way by HIVAIDS In the nearly two decades since the first reports of the disease AIDS has become a global epidemic Worldwide more than 36 million adults and children are now living with HIV Since the epidemic began 218 million people have died of AIDS 43 million of them children According to recent estimates by the United Nations Program on HIVAIDS UNAIDS and the World Health Organization WHO 53 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2000 alone and AIDS-related deaths reached a record 3 million Of those who died 500000 were children The impact of the AIDS epidemic is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa where AIDS has become a crisis with enormous social and economic consequences But the largest increase in HIVAIDS has been in the Russian Federation In the year 2000 more new HIV infections were recorded there than in all previous years of the epidemic combined In developed
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