Of the many millions of adults and children living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, an estimated 30 million, live in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2003, 58 percent of those infected in the region were women.
The United Nations Security Council has declared that, if unchecked, HIV/AIDS is likely to pose a major threat to economic, social, and political stability as well as human security. It is estimated that there are 15,000 new infections every day, 95 percent in developing countries. An estimated 11.3 percent of infections are occurring in children below fifteen years of age, and 86.6 percent in people in the reproductive age group (fifteen to forty-nine years). Since the beginning of the pandemic, an estimated 21.8 million have died of AIDS, and the disease is now the fourth leading cause of death in the world and the number one cause of mortality in Africa, exceeding the number killed in armed conflict. Over 13.2 million children have been orphaned as a result of AIDS; over 12 million of these are in Africa.
The major mode of transmission is heterosexual transmission (70 percent) and, in some parts of Asia, intravenous drug use. It takes a long time to develop full-blown AIDS; thus many people do not even know they are carrying the virus and so continue to infect their partners.
Sharifah H. Shahabudin, Gender and HIV/AIDS - The Human Rights and Security Perspectives," UNAIDS and Women Watch, www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/Shahabudin2001.htm