AIDS has become the most devastating global epidemic the world has ever faced. At the end of 2004, an estimated 40 million people globally were infected with HIV. More than five million people are newly infected each year and more than 6,000 lives are lost every day to the disease.
The impact of HIV/AIDS is unique because it kills adults in the prime of their lives, depriving families, communities and nations of their young and most productive people. At the same time, the slow attrition caused by the chronic illnesses associated with AIDS saps the resources of families and caregivers, weakening civic participation in development efforts and threatening the sustainability of those efforts.