A numbers game

In late January, the Chinese government, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS released a report which revised downward the estimate of the number of people living with the HIV virus in the vast country.

The revision states that 650,000 people in China are infected with the HIV virus–75,000 of whom have full-blown AIDS. An earlier study (released in 2003) had reported that about 840,000 people were HIV positive–of whom 84,000 had full-blown AIDS.

The new numbers, according to UNAIDS and WHO, are a result of China’s improved surveillance system. The Chinese Health Ministry expanded the number of sites from which it collects data from 194 in 2003 to 329 in 2005. It has also increased the population groups covered by the system, making the new estimate more accurate, according to the UNAIDS and WHO.

But with 70,000 new infections in China last year, international health organizations warned that the revised numbers leave no room for complacency.

India faces its own surveillance challenges. Political, social and economic issues complicate the process of gathering information to accurately reflect the number of HIV positive people in India.

In this audio podcast, Anand Grover, an attorney and project director for the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit in Mumbai, India, addresses the gulf between the Indian government’s statistics and NGOs statistics on the number of people infected with the HIV virus. The Collective’s attorneys represent indigent people in court to help win them access to medicines or to protect their jobs against discrimination. The Collective is also trying to influence Indian legislation to make access to health services a government obligation.


Related Previous Posting: Anand Grover discusses condoms and Morality (Video Interview).

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