Stanecki, K., Garnett, G.P., & Ghys, P.D. Sexually Transmitted Infections (December 2012), Vol. 88 No. S2.
Continuously updating and improving data quality and explaining data and analytic methods are essential to improving the estimation and understanding of HIV worldwide. The authors of this editorial introduce a collection of 15 articles that provide an update on improvements in HIV estimation methods and assumptions, exploring various methods and analyses of primary data. While national surveys have been the gold standard for over 10 years, there is doubt as to whether the surveys provide unbiased estimates of prevalence because of those who do not participate in them. Another issue explored is risk and size of key groups, particularly the length of time individuals remain at risk. The authors further highlight the range of articles about HIV estimates, methods, and trends. These include mortality after initiating HIV treatment despite improving treatment coverage, new estimates of mother-to-child transmission risks, trends in HIV prevalence among young people, HIV transmission dynamics in different regions, and use of alternative data sources such as registered deaths to help assess the validity of model estimates. While the authors recognize the challenges of accurately estimating the extent of the HIV pandemic, they also note that collaborative efforts to improve estimation processes have been useful. Although continued improvements and updates are needed, this approach should be a model for tracking other diseases.