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World Aids Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.

© Robert Simpson




World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988. There are lots of great activities in celebration of World Aids Day taking place around the UK. Find out more on the World Aids Day website.


One of our research groups focuses their attention on the fight against HIV/AIDS. Explore their work, which has been featured in high impact scientific journals as well as in mainstream media, here


The story behind one HIV fact

Fact: Of the estimated 78 million infections globally, only 1 has been cured

The story: Timothy Ray Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995. His infection was controlled with Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) until he developed acute leukaemia in 2006. Chemotherapy failed and Brown's doctor in Berlin, Gero Hütter, decided to treat his leukaemia with bone marrow transplants. 

Hütter found a bone marrow donor with a rare mutation in a gene that destroys a key receptor on white blood cells that the HIV virus uses to start the infection. By choosing this donor, Hütter hoped that he could not only rid Brown's body of leukaemia, but also that the HIV virus was no longer capable of establishing itself back into Brown's body. The intervention worked and Brown has been HIV free for the past 10 years. 

Understanding exactly why the treatment worked might help scientists to finally find a cure for AIDS. Researchers at Emroy University in Atlanta, led by immunologist Guido Silvestri, are using this case in their research programme ERASE AIDS (Emory Research Alliance to Stop/Eradicate AIDS).

Read more here

HIV/AIDS infections in children

In the UK there are 6,000 new infections each year, fewer than 30 of which are in children. In South Africa there are 380,000 new infections per year, with approximately 6000 occurring in children. 

The majority - over 90% - of infections in children is the result of mother-to-child transmission in pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. These children need to receive antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible. Without the drugs, a third of these children will die before their first birthday and only half will live beyond their second birthday.

The risk of mother to child transmission can be drastically reduced. The likelihood that an untreated mother passes her infection on to her child is 15-45%. However, if the mother takes antiretroviral drugs and uses other safety measures, the risk can be reduced to less than 5%.

In September 2015, the WHO released new guidelines recommending lifelong antiretroviral treatment for all pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV.

Read more about the prevention of Mother-to-Child infections here

Other facts

The epidemic started around 100 years ago in the Democratic Republic of Congo via transmission of SIV from monkeys to humans.

There are still more than 2 million new HIV infections globally each year. 

Only around half of the 37 million people infected with HIV are receiving anti-retroviral therapy.

There are still more than 1 million deaths from AIDS worldwide per year.

In the UK just over 100,000 people are living with AIDS. 45,000 are MSM (Men who have sex with men), 21,000 are heterosexual men and 33,000 are heterosexual women. Around 80% of MSMs living with HIV in UK are of white ethnicity and 60% of heterosexuals living with HIV in the UK are of black African ethnicity.

South Africa (population 52.3 million) has the largest number of HIV infections worldwide and there are 7 million people living with HIV in the country. Overall, 19% of adults in South Africa are HIV-infected. In KwaZulu-Natal, a small coastal province, as many as 40% of the adult population is infected. 

More facts and information on HIV/AIDS can be found here

Tomas Hanke's work on HIV

You can also find a Q&A with HIV researcher Tomas Hanke from the Nuffield Department of Medicine here at the University here.