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Lower AIDS estimates

by Tillmann Elliesen

The United Nations has drastically adjusted its worldwide estimate of the number of people infected with HIV. According to UNAIDS, 33.2 million people lived with HIV/AIDS last year – 17 % fewer than previously assumed. The UN agency reports that the adjustment results from more sophisticated data collection. In India, in particular, as well as in five African countries (Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zimbabwe), the new methods detect significantly fewer HIV infections than formerly assumed. The six countries thus account for 70 % of the re-assessment.

However, the situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia has deteriorated considerably. According to UNAIDS, the number of AIDS patients has increased threefold in that region since 2001. The pandemic is also spreading fast in Vietnam and Indonesia.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria welcomed the new statistics, but stuck to its $ 12 to 18 billion estimate of the funding requirement for 2008 to 2010. That estimate, the Fund argues, is based on financing need for specific projects and programmes rather than on the global incidence of HIV/AIDS as assessed by UNAIDS. (ell)