Feature story

International consultation on AIDS estimates: Recommendations

16 November 2007

An International Consultation on AIDS Epidemiological Estimates, convened jointly by the UNAIDS Secretariat and WHO, was held on 14-15 November 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting brought together more than 30 technical experts and country epidemiologists from around the world to review the current processes and methodologies used by UNAIDS and WHO to produce HIV estimates at the country, regional and global level.

The consultation recognised that the new set of draft UNAIDS/WHO country estimates for 2007 is based on the best available data and methodologies.

The meeting participants made a number of recommendations for future improvements. These included:

  • Independent scientific review of the estimation process and methodologies should take place on a regular basis, involving experts who have not been directly implicated in the production of the methodologies and the estimates;
  • Countries should be encouraged to collect data of better quality and representativeness and increased assistance should be provided to countries. Data should come from a range of sources, such as sentinel surveillance sites, as well as population-based surveys, though careful consideration must be given to the strengths and limitations of each data source (for example non response bias in surveys). Surveillance of most at risk populations, such as sex workers, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men, must be strengthened to try to reach more accurate estimates of population sizes and HIV prevalence;
  • Country ownership should continue to be a key feature of HIV surveillance and data collection, with training involving a wide range of stakeholders including local epidemiologists, civil society and government representatives;
  • Surveillance should be integral to the design, implementation and evaluation of HIV programmes in country. UNAIDS and WHO should build capacity of country counterparts to analyse surveillance data leading to an improved understanding of the dynamics of the epidemic and how programmatic resources might be best used; and
  • Special studies may be required to assess aspects such as AIDS-specific mortality rates and the quality and coverage of treatment resources.


The UNAIDS secretariat and WHO will release the global 2007 HIV estimates on 21 November 2007 in time for World AIDS Day. UNAIDS and WHO will continue to work with experts and country counterparts to systematically review the methods used to derive HIV estimates and ensure they reflect up to date scientific evidence and research.




Links:

Read more on the process behind AIDS estimates

Read more on the International consultation on AIDS estimates

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