Most cases of HIV infection occur in Africa where the spread of the HIV epidemic is greatest in Southern Africa. Over 40 million people world-wide have HIV infection. South Africa has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics with 1000 to 2000 people infected every day. Between 12 and 15% of all South Africans are currently infected with HIV. Approximately 30% of pregnant women in South Africa are HIV-positive (i.e. infected with HIV) and over 100 000 infants are infected annually.
Symptomatic HIV infection is causing a widespread epidemic in Africa.
HIV infection is having a devastating effect on the health of children and many of the gains made in child survival during recent years are now being reversed. In many hospitals in Southern Africa, most paediatric beds are now filled with children suffering from HIV infection.