U.N. Downsizes AIDS Estimate
Posted on Nov 20, 2007
Finally, some good news in the world (relatively speaking): AIDS scientists at the United Nations are ready to announce that they have been overestimating the scale of the viral epidemic for quite some time now, and that the spread of AIDS has actually been decelerating over the last decade.
The Washington Post:
AIDS remains a devastating public health crisis in the most heavily affected areas of sub-Saharan Africa. But the far-reaching revisions amount to at least a partial acknowledgment of criticisms long leveled by outside researchers who disputed the U.N. portrayal of an ever-expanding global epidemic.
The latest estimates, due to be released publicly Tuesday, put the number of annual new HIV infections at 2.5 million, a cut of more than 40 percent from last year’s estimate, documents show. The worldwide total of people infected with HIV—estimated a year ago at nearly 40 million and rising—now will be reported as 33 million.
Having millions fewer people with a lethal contagious disease is good news. Some researchers, however, contend that persistent overestimates in the widely quoted U.N. reports have long skewed funding decisions and obscured potential lessons about how to slow the spread of HIV. Critics have also said that U.N. officials overstated the extent of the epidemic to help gather political and financial support for combating AIDS.