Some of the world’s most significant health threats include HIV/AIDS, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, diabetes, diarrheal diseases, and poor vaccination practices.
Over 33 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and over 25 million people have died since the first case of HIV/AIDS was diagnosed in 1981.1 Nearly 97% of all those infected with HIV/AIDS live in low and middle-income countries, and are particularly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa.2. An estimated 3.4 million children are currently living with HIV/AIDS worldwide.3 People living with HIV/AIDS are statistically more likely to face discrimination, isolation, and abuse from family members and other members of society as a result of the negative stigmas surrounding the disease.4
Sexually transmitted diseases are a major health burden, and more than one million people contract a sexually transmitted disease every day worldwide.5 Additionally, each year 500 million people become ill with chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or trichomoniasis.6 Several strains of sexually transmitted infections can substantially increase the likelihood of contracting HIV.7 More than 290 million women globally are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV).8 Untreated HPV can cause cervical cancer and cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, throat, and tonsils.9
Noncommunicable diseases were attributed to 68% of deaths worldwide in 2012.10 The four leading noncommunicable diseases globally are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and chronic lung diseases.11 Cancer accounts for over 8 million deaths each year,12 cardiovascular diseases for 17 million deaths, lung diseases for 4 million, and diabetes for 1.3 million deaths.13 More than 80% of deaths from noncommunicable diseases occur in low or middle-income countries.14 Most noncommunicable diseases have similar risk factors, such as physical inactivity, excessive tobacco and alcohol use, and poor nutritional health.15
The leading communicable diseases worldwide include HIV/AIDS, malaria, cholera, and tuberculosis. In 2012 there were 207 million cases of malaria worldwide and the disease was responsible for an estimated 670,000 deaths, particularly African children.16 One child in Africa dies every minute from malaria.17 Cholera and other waterborne diseases are also prevalent due to the fact that 748 million people still do not have access to clean water sources worldwide.18 There are approximately 1.4 to 4.3 million cases of cholera in the world and the disease causes anywhere from 28,000 to 140,000 deaths each year.19 In 2012 there were 8.6 million cases of tuberculosis and 1.3 million deaths.20 Vaccine-preventable diseases are a particularly deadly threat in developing countries where immunization is low. Around 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year from preventable diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and measles.21