HIV/AIDS is a deadly disease that has had a tremendous impact on the lives of millions across the world. Since the start of the epidemic in the 1980s, approximately 78 million people have become infected, and 35 million have died from AIDS-related illnesses. Further, there are approximately 2.1 million new infections each year. However, with significant advances in science, HIV/AIDS is becoming more of a chronic condition with 36.7 million people actively living with the illness. Every year on December 1st, the United Nations sponsors World AIDS Day, an event to raise awareness around HIV and AIDS and promote access and treatment for individuals living with AIDS, as well as those who are at risk of contracting it.

HIV/AIDS is also associated with several cancers, and individuals infected with HIV are more susceptible to developing them. For example, the largest correlation is seen in Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and cervical cancers where individuals are much more likely to be diagnosed. Other associated cancers include anal, liver, lung, and Hodgkin lymphoma. As LGBTQ individuals are at higher risk for developing HIV, they need to be acutely aware of that risk and be screened frequently for any warning signs. For more information on patient self-advocacy and cancer information, visit the George Washington Cancer Center’s Prepared Patient website.

This year the theme of World AIDS day is “Hands up for #HIVprevention,” and the UN is focusing on vulnerable populations, such as adolescent girls, young women and the LGBTQ community. To learn more about the campaign and how to get involved, click here.


All HIV/AIDS statistics were pulled from the United Nations’ World AIDS Day website