Saturday, 18 September 2010

New infections down 25%?

Apparently sub-Saharan Africa is now leading the decrease in new HIV infections, with up to 25% drops on 2001 figures in some countries. This, if it is true, is extremely encouraging, suggesting that the epidemic is levelling off in the region and may start to decline.

My scepticism is aroused by an Aids report that fails to give any specifics. WHICH countries? Is that 25% averaged over all the countries? What is the change in specific countries? What methodology is being used to generate those estimates? Are these general population stats or anti-natal? It is suggested that the worst-hit countries (apparently South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Zambia - what ever happened to Botswana?) are the places with the greatest change. Details?

The report goes on to talk about the dangerous prospect of a $10 billion shortfall of funding (for 2009, but I'm sure they mean 2010). And suggests that one of the reasons for the drop in infection rates is increased uptake of treatment - eh? - presumably positioning to argue that more money for treatment would further close the infection-rate gap. I'd love to see some specific stats and some explanation of where this info comes from. Failing that, I fear this may be an attempt to fudge the numbers to position HIV as a good investment at the MDG summit.

Update: Found the original article. It's both believable and really encouraging (as well as open about the MDG hopes of UNAID). Much happier now.

However: While I have great respect for media professionals but can someone explain to me how this and this turn into this?

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