Worldwide, more than half of new HIV infections now among key populations and their sexual partners

05 November 2019

The global distribution of new HIV infections in 2018 crossed a threshold: the majority of global new infections were among key populations and their sexual partners.

This change is a result of the strong progress in settings with high HIV prevalence in eastern and southern Africa, combined with a mixture of progress and setbacks in lower prevalence regions.

Key populations make up a small proportion of the general population, but they are at extremely high risk of acquiring HIV infection. Available data suggest that the risk of HIV acquisition among gay men and other men who have sex with men was 22 times higher in 2018 than it was among all adult men. Similarly, the risk of acquiring HIV for people who inject drugs was 22 times higher than for people who do not inject drugs, 21 times higher for sex workers than adults aged 15–49 years and 12 times higher for transgender women than adults aged 15–49 years.