Over the past 20 years, the public health community has learnt a tremendous amount about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Yet,despite widespread discussion about the epidemic and some measurable progress,the overall response has been insufficient: globally 42 million people are already infected with HIV, prevalence continues to rise,and less than 5% of those affected have access to lifesaving medicines. In the face of this growing crisis, the World Health Organization has made scaling up treatment a key priority of the new administration. We argue that not only is the HIV/AIDS epidemic an emergency, but its devastating effects on societies may qualify it as one of the most serious disasters to have affected humankind. As such, this crisis warrants a full disaster management response.