In 2007, an estimated 33.2 million people lived with AIDS/HIV worldwide, and it killed an estimated 2.1 million people, including 330,000 children. Over three-quarters of these deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, retarding economic growth and destroying human capital. From Wikipedia
AIDS has become the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa where approx. 1 in 4 deaths is caused by AIDS:
Obviously, life expectancy in many countries hardest hit by AIDS has fallen dramatically:
AIDS has also worsened some existing problems such as poverty, lack of education etc. It is estimated that 11.4 million AIDS orphans live in the region. Some predict that AIDS will even lead to economic collapse in some African countries. Ostracism, rejection and discrimination are other consequences. Homosexuals patients must now suffer a double stigma, their AIDS reinforcing the pre-existing prejudices against their homosexuality.
In the 1990s in the US, it also became the leading cause of death in adults aged between 25 and 44, but the introduction of more effective drugs has reduced the mortality of the disease quite effectively:
(A) Annual AIDS deaths in sub-Saharan Africa (population 640 million) compared with those in USA (population 273 million). (B) Deaths in the USA in more detail, showing the five leading causes of death in men and women 25–44 years old. Over the course of ten years, AIDS came to be the leading cause of death in this generally healthy age group. The sharp decline in mortality followed the introduction of highly active anti-retroviral therapy, although the prevalence of HIV infection has not decreased. (Data obtained from UNAIDS and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.). Robin A. Weiss
However, the same progress has not occurred in Africa because drugs are expensive and routine access to antiretroviral medication is not easily available. Efforts to prevent the infection from occurring, such as the promotion of safe sex and needle-exchange programs, encounter cultural or religious obstacles. As a result, we are turning what could be a manageable chronic illness into a death sentence for many, thereby also encouraging the spread of HIV to others.