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UNAIDS Report: 9 Million Are Likely HIV Positive And Don't Know It

That's why public health officials are urging people to "know your status." But if they learn they are HIV positive, there isn't always a clear path to treatment.
A woman in Johannesburg, South Africa, uses an HIV kit that tests for antibodies in oral fluids. Source: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images

About 9.4 million people are likely HIV-positive and don't know it. That's a key finding from a new report from UNAIDS — and it's why the theme of this month's World AIDS Day is "Know your HIV status."

That's an important message, HIV/AIDS specialists say, at a time when the disease no longer makes headlines.

"Some people are under the erroneous impression that the epidemic is done," says Wafaa El-Sadr, global director of the public-health organization ICAP and a professor at Columbia University. But HIV/AIDS remains an enormous problem around the world, she says: "Two million new infections in the past year; still about a million deaths every year."

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