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According to estimates by WHO and UNAIDS, 34.2 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2011. That same year, some 2.5 million people became newly infected, and 1.7 million died of AIDS-related causes, including 230 000 children. More than two-thirds of new HIV infections are in sub-Saharan Africa. However, fewer than 20% of them are actually aware of the infection. Infection with HIV is determined by an HIV test.
Gender and diagnosis
Diagnosis and gender play corresponding roles in recognizing the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. Women have not been diagnosed as early as men because their symptoms were not as obvious and doctors were not as likely to search for the disease in them as they are for men. This has also been based on the fact that far more men than women participated in clinical trials and women were therefore under-represented. Barbara Ogur has pointed out that the stigma of illegal drug use, and multiple partners has also led to a lack of care and noticeability for women.
Among the women who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the United States in 2009, 64% were Black, 18% were Latina, 15% were White, and 1% were Native Alaskan or Native American. Far more women contract the disease via heterosexual contact than men.
Over the years of coping with the stigma and discrimination that accompany the diagnosis in most societies, a large number of support groups have been formed. In these groups, the term most often applied to people who are HIV-positive is "People Living With HIV/AIDS". This is often abbreviated as "PLWHA" or "PLHIV". Recently, "People Living Positively" has also been used.
The largest and oldest of the worldwide networks of people living with HIV is the Global Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS (GNP+), which has affiliate networks on every continent.
Testimony and relationship issues
For women who are HIV-positive and also in relationships, sexual expression and communication may become an issue of conflict. Their natural human desires of love, trust and intimacy might go unrecognized in programs such as ABC (Abstinence, Being faithful, Condom use) and as a member of the ICW (International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS) stated at the International AIDS conference in 2006 "we need to bring love back into the whole thing."
Each individual deals with an HIV diagnosis and their post-diagnosis sexual activity in different ways. Some individuals with HIV may decide to practice abstinence, while others may continue to have sex. An ICW member from Zimbabwe stated at a session in Toronto that her "relationship ended, and I spent the next four years celibate," while an ICW member in the United Kingdom found that she preferred the use of condoms and "in some ways [HIV] has made me more assertive sexually." It is vital to note that a positive diagnosis of the disease does not only affect illegal drug users or promiscuous individuals and that their basic sexual desires do not fade.
Testing and rights
In Understanding Positive Women's Realities, Emma Bell and Luisa Orza argue HIV and sexual and reproductive health programmes and policies fail to recognize the complexity of HIV-positive people's lives and the context in which their sexual and reproductive choices are situated. Services do not prepare people for the consequences of a positive result of an HIV test. In many cases, service users are not taken into account and are forced to undergo an AIDS test without prior consent.
Understanding HIV-positive realities
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Amnesty International, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects and the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, have all condemned forced HIV testing actions as infringements on human rights and conflicting with proven public health measures that are successful in preventing HIV transmission. Sex workers in Malawi and Greece have been forced to undergo HIV testing and those who tested HIV-positive were criminalized. Stigmatizing measures discourage HIV-positive people from seeking voluntary and confidential counseling, testing and treatment. 
According to Emma Bell and Luisa Orza in Understanding Positive Women's Realities, there is need for service providers to understand women's relationships impact on their ability to access treatment and other health services. In many cases, HIV-positive realities include husbands or partners forcing their HIV-positive spouse into giving them their ARV dose while he has not tested for HIV and not wanting to undergo an HIV test.
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- Women's Lives: Multicultural Perspective Chapter 5
- Venugopal G, Pillai A. "First ever needs assessment study by PLWHA to formulate a strategic intervention". Archived from the original on 2011-06-20.
- Understanding Positive Women's Realities(2006) Emma Bell and Luisa Orza
- HIV travel restrictions and retreats: http://plhiv.org
- ILGA.org: international organisation militating against all legal discriminations of travel and residence in the world against people infected by HIV or in AIDS diseases.
- HIV/AIDS Regulations The yearly information report for travellers with HIV/AIDS.
- AIDSmap: information portal on AIDS and the associated legislations in the world
- (in French) Survey about discriminations against people living with HIV, 2005 – SIDA Information Service, France
- (in French) sidaventure.net: website of an association fighting discriminations against VIH holders.
- : the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS website.
- Women's Lives: Multicultural Perspectives Gywn Kirk and Margo Okazawa-Rey