Nearly 37 million people are living with HIV. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region with more than 25 million people affected, and accounts for over 65 percent of the global total of new HIV infections. Tragically, HIV claims the lives of 1.1 million people each year globally.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects cells of the immune system, causing it to become weak and making it more susceptible to infections. HIV is generally spread through unprotected sexual intercourse or contaminated blood, but can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy. There is no cure for HIV.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. It can take 10-15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop AIDS but antiretroviral (ARV) drugs have made a huge difference in slowing or halting the progression to AIDS.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than 36 million people are living with the virus, with 2.1 million new infections (of which 20 percent are of adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24) and 1.1 million people dying from AIDS-related illnesses each year. It is estimated that currently only 51 percent of people with HIV know their status. The WHO reports that In 2015, 17 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, of which 10.3 million were in eastern and southern Africa.

World AIDS Day - 1 December

World AIDS Day, held each year on 1 December, is an opportunity for people worldwide to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died.

Burnet’s Research and Public Health Focus

HIV is a major focus at Burnet, with more than half our work addressing laboratory-based research into finding a cure for the disease while our public health programs are focused on education and prevention both in Australia and overseas.

Centre for Biomedical Research

  • Associate Professor David Anderson and Professor Suzanne Crowe AM developed a Point-of-Care test for CD4 T cells - an inexpensive test which aims to speed up the HIV diagnosis process and improve access to HIV treatment for millions around the world.
  • Examines the side affects associated with HIV treatments and neuropathy (nerve damage in the feet) in HIV patients.
  • Looks at the effects of HIV infection on the brain and the development of HIV associated dementia (Churchill Laboratory).
  • Investigates how HIV replicates and destroys immune cells.
  • Testing a gel that may be used to block HIV from infecting cells (Tachedjian Laboratory)
  • Working towards an HIV vaccine using protein crystals from insect viruses in collaboration with Monash University (Ffrench Laboratory).

Centre for Population Health

  • Aims to reduce HIV transmission in Australia by managing and developing innovative systems for the Victorian Government.
  • Conducts research involving groups most at risk and vulnerable to HIV

Centre for International Health

  • Works with communities, civil society organisations, international non-government organisations and United Nations agencies with particular interest in Asia and the Pacific, focusing on HIV prevention and care.

Current Projects

Past Projects


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