The first case of AIDS in Mozambique was recorded in 1986. The following year, the first survey was carried in various urban centres, which reported an average prevalence between 1.2–2 per cent.
The civil war that engulfed Mozambique from 1975 to 1994 considerably hampered the national response to HIV as most resources were diverted to the war. During this time limited surveillance of the epidemic made it difficult to measure its impact. Since 1992 returning refugees from neighbouring countries have fuelled the rapid spread of the epidemic in Mozambique.
At the end of 2009, there were 1.4 million people living with HIV, which corresponds to an 11.5 per cent prevalence. There is great disparity between HIV prevalence in the northern (nine per cent) and southern regions (21 per cent).
In Mozambique, as in most countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, young women aged 15–24 are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to men in the same age group. Estimates from UNAIDS in 2010 show that HIV prevalence among young women is at 8.6 per cent compared to 3.1 per cent among young men.
Some 218,991 people were enrolled in antiretroviral treatment (ART) at the end of 2010 compared to 576,000 in need of treatment. The percentage of HIV-positive pregnant women who received antiretroviral prophylaxis to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV was 72 per cent at the end of 2010.