amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

UNAIDS Revises Global HIV/AIDS Estimates

November 26, 2007—UNAIDS and the World Health Organization on November 20 released new data on global HIV/AIDS based on improved methodology and surveillance.

UNAIDS had previously estimated that there were 39.5 million people living with HIV in 2006; the 2007 AIDS Epidemic Update revises that figure downward to 32.7 million. According to the report, 33.2 million people were living with HIV in 2007, 2.5 million became newly infected, and 2.1 million died of AIDS.

UNAIDS attributes its lower figures to improvements in country data collection and analysis, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. According to the 2007 update, a substantially reduced estimate for India—revised from 5.7 million to 2.5 million infections—was reached with the inclusion of data from a national household survey in which more than 100,000 people were tested for HIV. In addition, India expanded its HIV sentinel surveillance sites from 155 in 1998 to 1,120 in 2006. The reassessment of the epidemic in India, along with revisions of estimates in Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, accounted for 70 percent of the reduction in prevalence figures.

Although the new figures indicate the epidemic is growing at a slower rate, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean continue to bear the brunt of HIV/AIDS. An estimated 22.5 million HIV-positive people—68 percent of the global total—live in sub-Saharan Africa and more than 76 percent of AIDS-related deaths occurred in this region in 2007. In Asia, an estimated 4.9 million people were living with HIV in 2007.

UNAIDS was quick to point out that these numbers should not be interpreted to mean that the global AIDS epidemic is under control. Prevalence in some countries has leveled off, but continued to exceed 15 percent in eight sub-Saharan countries in 2005. Many of the 33 million people living with HIV still have no access to antiretroviral medications, and universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, and care services remains a distant goal.

The full UNAIDS 2007 AIDS Epidemic Update and supporting documents are available at:

To learn more about amfAR’s work addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Asia through our TREAT Asia initiative, click here.