HIV prevalence is increasing worldwide because people on antiretroviral therapy are living longer, although new infections decreased from 3.3 million in 2002, to 2.3 million in 2012. Global AIDS-related deaths peaked at 2.3 million in 2005, and decreased to 1.6 million by 2012. An estimated 9.7 million people in low-income and middle-income countries had started antiretroviral therapy by 2012. New insights into the mechanisms of latent infection and the importance of reservoirs of infection might eventually lead to a cure. The role of immune activation in the pathogenesis of non-AIDS clinical events (major causes of morbidity and mortality in people on antiretroviral therapy) is receiving increased recognition. Breakthroughs in the prevention of HIV important to public health include male medical circumcision, antiretrovirals to prevent mother-to-child transmission, antiretroviral therapy in people with HIV to prevent transmission, and antiretrovirals for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Research into other prevention interventions, notably vaccines and vaginal microbicides, is in progress.