Hiv And The Global Epidemic

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Over the last two decades, HIV has materialized from an unknown virus to a pandemic of prodigious proportions. Social issues increase the risk of HIV infection, thereby creating a counterproductive environment, where combatting the global epidemic effectively is hampered. To date, millions worldwide have succumbed to the virus and currently, over 40 million people are living with HIV.

Before the numbers decline, more must be done to address the social stigmas and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS so that those in need of treatment and access to prevention programs are reached. A misinterpretation of the facts and widespread stigmatizing has made this a pressing social problem, especially among principal affected populations.

#### Key Affected Populations

Members of key affected populations are those who are more vulnerable to HIV infection due to high-risk behaviors or because they are marginalized by society and fearful of seeking HIV services. The implementation of prevention strategies targeting these groups with applicable information and resources is an effective response, but these certain communities are often disenfranchised, so programs remain limited.

Though key populations are at the highest risk of contracting and transmitting HIV, they also have lessened access to prevention instruction and medical intervention because their conduct is often stigmatized, and, in some sectors, even criminalized. Chief high-risk populations include:

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