The United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS estimates that unless improvements are made in treatment and prevention, from 2000 to 2020, 68 million people in the 45 most heavily affected countries will die of AIDS. The global total of young people living with HIV/AIDS could experience a 70% increase by 2010 (Summers et al., 2002). What makes the global numbers even more threatening is that 95% of those infected with HIV have no access to treatment, mostly because of financial and cultural reasons (Kreinin, 2001). Other problems may also interfere with access to treatment, including trans­portation issues and possible drug confiscation to sell for profit in other markets.

Children are grossly affected by the AIDS epidemic. In fact, it is estimated that every minute a child becomes infected with HIV and another child dies of an AIDS – related illness (UNAIDS, 2005b). By 2005, an estimated 15 million children had lost at least one parent to AIDS worldwide; but by 2010 it is estimated that there will be 18 million children who have lost a parent to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa alone (UNAIDS, 2005b). The number of children who have been orphaned throughout the world due to AIDS is equivalent to the total number of children under the age of 5 living in the United States.

*Much of the material in this section was taken from the AIDS Epidemic Update: December, 2005, published by Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

Over 8.3 million people are living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific (UNAIDS, 2005b). Much of the current increases are due to the rising numbers in India (where close to 5 million are living with HIV) and China (where over 1 million reported people are liv­ing with HIV). Chinese companies have begun developing generic versions of anti­retroviral drugs, which are much cheaper than the imported name-brand drugs. In Asia, there has been a constant increase in HIV infection among intravenous drug users, with more than half of all intravenous drug users infected in Nepal, southern China, and northeastern India (Sharma, 2001). The most serious HIV epidemics in China have oc­curred among specific populations, such as IV drug users, sex workers, and their partners. Many of these populations are poorly educated about HIV and AIDS.

Cambodia is another country that has been hard hit by the AIDS epidemic. It is es­timated that close to 3% of the entire adult population is infected with HIV, although these numbers have slowly been dropping (UNAIDS, 2005b). Educational efforts in Cambodia have been aimed at prostitutes, who are being encouraged to use condoms consistently.

Indonesia has experienced a sharp increase in the number of intravenous drug users, which has helped to fuel the spread of HIV. It is estimated that if the pattern of drug use continues, intravenous drug users will account for over 80% of all HIV infections in Indonesia.

New HIV infections in Thailand have been dropping over the last 10 years, and many hail Thailand’s response to AIDS as a success story (UNAIDS, 2005b). This may be because government officials in Thailand began copying antiretroviral drugs for their AIDS patients, which made the drugs much more accessible for those with HIV/AIDS (T. Rosenberg, 2001). In addition, Thailand has instituted a “100% condom use” pro­gram targeted at the prostitution industry (Sharma, 2001). Interestingly, because Thailand is the world’s largest rubber exporter, Thailand has been considering tackling the AIDS epidemic by recycling stockpiled rubber into condoms (Noikorn, 2001).

In India, it was estimated that as of 2005, 5.1 million people were infected with HIV, but due to underreporting, this number may be much higher (UNAIDS, 2005b). A large proportion of HIV infections is occurring in married women whose husbands fre­quent sex workers. Both prostitution and IV drug use have helped fuel the epidemic in India.