The number of people suffering from AIDS soared by 25 percent in 1995 and now totals 1.3 million, according to a report by the United Nations.
In a survey released Thursday, the United Nations said 21 million adults across the world are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Women make up about 42 percent of the reported cases and the percentage is rising, the organization said.
The agency did not release figures on the number of children infected, and experts disagree on how many there are. Data indicate that most adults were infected with HIV between the ages of 15 and 24 and experience symptoms by the age of 35. More than 90 percent of those who die from AIDS-related disease are under 49.
More than 90 percent of those infected with HIV or AIDS live in developing countries. Industrialized countries in North America, Europe and the Pacific nations together accounted for 1.2 million cases of HIV.
The worst hit regions in the world are sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, the agency said.