Drop in Number of New HIV Cases Reported in India Attributable to Change in Data Collection Methodology
The seemingly drastic decrease in the number of newly reported HIV cases in India from 2003 to 2004 is the result of a change in methodology for collecting data, according to independent statisticians, the AP/USA Today reports (AP/USA Today, 5/31). India's National AIDS Control Organization last week said that 28,000 new HIV cases were reported in the country in 2004, compared with 520,000 new cases in 2003. The Indian independent organizations Institute of Research in Medical Statistics and the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare used UNAIDS and World Health Organization recommendations to collect the data (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/27). India's sentinel sites, which collect HIV infection data, before 2002 focused only on high-risk areas. However, two years ago the sites began collecting data from lower-risk areas as well. This expansion gave a slightly higher but more accurate count and led to a large increase in the number of newly reported HIV cases from 2002 to 2003, Denis Broun, the India coordinator for UNAIDS, said, adding that the number of new cases reported last year seems small in comparison. However, HIV/AIDS advocates are angry that the Indian government has not explained the change in methodology. "We feel there's something drastically wrong with the figures given," Ryan Fernandes of Sahara, a New Delhi-based group that works with HIV-positive women, said, adding, "We have absolutely no idea how they have come to these figures. At the grassroots level, we find things are much different. Every day we are getting to know of new cases." An estimated 5.13 million HIV-positive people live in India, the second highest number after South Africa (AP/USA Today, 5/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.