The burden of HIV: insights from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010

Ortblad, Katrina F.; Lozano, Rafael; Murray, Christopher J.L.

doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e328362ba67
Editorial Review

Objectives: To evaluate the global and country-level burden of HIV/AIDS relative to 291 other causes of disease burden from 1980 to 2010 using the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010) as the vehicle for exploration.

Methods: HIV/AIDS burden estimates were derived elsewhere as a part of GBD 2010, a comprehensive assessment of the magnitude of 291 diseases and injuries from 1990 to 2010 for 187 countries. In GBD 2010, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are used as the measurement of disease burden. DALY estimates for HIV/AIDS come from UNAIDS’ 2012 prevalence and mortality estimates, GBD 2010 disability weights and mortality estimates derived from quality vital registration data.

Results: Despite recent declines in global HIV/AIDS mortality, HIV/AIDS was still the fifth leading cause of global DALYs in 2010. The distribution of HIV/AIDS burden is not equal across demographics and regions. In 2010, HIV/AIDS was ranked as the leading DALY cause for ages 30–44 years in both sexes and for 21 countries that fall into four distinctive blocks: Eastern and Southern Africa, Central Africa, the Caribbean and Thailand. Although a majority of the DALYs caused by HIV/AIDS are in high-burden countries, 20% of the global HIV/AIDS burden in 2010 was in countries where HIV/AIDS did not make the top 10 leading causes of burden.

Conclusion: In the midst of a global economic recession, tracking the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its importance relative to other diseases and injuries is critical to effectively allocating limited resources and maintaining funding for effective HIV/AIDS interventions and treatments.

Author Information

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Correspondence to Christopher J.L. Murray, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, 2301 5th Ave, Suite 600, Seattle, WA 98121, USA. Tel: +1 2068972800; fax: +1 2068972899; e-mail:

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivitives 3.0 License, where it is permissible to download and share the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be changed in any way or used commercially.

Received January 17, 2013

Accepted April 29, 2013

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.