UN Slashes AIDS Estimate

Agency admits it seriously overestimated spread of epidemic
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2007 9:12 AM CST
A mother is pictured with her son, infected with HIV/AIDS, at the Robert Reid Cabral hospital in Santo Domingo, Tuesday, July 17, 2007. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – The United Nations will publish a report admitting that it has greatly overestimated the scale and the progress of the AIDS epidemic, writes the Washington Post. The UN's AIDS agency now believes that the disease has been slowing for a decade and that the worldwide toll of people living with AIDS will be revised from 40 million to 33 million.

The new estimates show a substantial concentration of infections in southern Africa, with rates much lower in other parts of the continent. A number of scientific organizations have been critical of UNAIDS, the Geneva-based organization that publishes infection statistics, for overestimating the proportions of the epidemic to fit funding. "There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said one activist.