AIDS stands for "acquired immune deficiency syndrome" or "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome" and denotes a condition, which results from the damage done by HIV (human immuno virus) to the immune system. The condition was first identified in 1981 and the name "AIDS" was first introduced on July 27, 1982.

HIV (Human Immuno Virus) can only be transmitted between people through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the blood stream with a bodily fluid. Hence, there has been a lot of stigma around the spread of HIV and people living with HIV and AIDS. It has been estimated that around 33 million people around the world have been infected with HIV and that around two million people die from AIDS related conditions each year.

South Africa is experiencing the largest HIV and AIDS epidemic in the world. Figures for 2014 state that an estimated 5.6 million South Africans are HIV positive, the largest number of any country in the world. The infection rate is growing at approximately 2000 people per day.

Almost 25% of all South African children under the age of 15 have lost at least one parent to AIDS. The province of KwaZulu Natal, where Project Gateway is situated, carries the heaviest burden with the most children and adults affected by HIV/AIDS, although KZN recorded a notable decrease between 2010 and 2011, from 39.5% to 37.4%.

HIV related estimates, 2014:

  • AIDS orphans 2,01 million
  • New HIV infections among adults aged 15+: 316 900
  • New HIV infections among children (0–14): 63 600

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