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.