Projections of HIV infections and AIDS cases to the year 2000

Bull World Health Organ. 1990;68(1):1-11.


After the recognition of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) in the early 1980s, uncertainty about the present and future dimensions of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection led to the development of many models to estimate current and future numbers of HIV infections and AIDS cases. The Global Programme on AIDS (GPA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed an AIDS projection model which relies on available HIV seroprevalence data and on the annual rate of progression from HIV infection to AIDS for use in areas where reporting of AIDS cases is incomplete, and where scant data are available to quantify biological and human behavioural variables. Virtually all models, including the WHO model, have projected large increases in the number of AIDS cases by the early 1990s. Such short-term projections are considered relatively reliable since most of the new AIDS cases will develop in persons already infected with HIV. Longer-term prediction (10 years or longer) is less reliable because HIV prevalence and future trends are determined by many variables, most of which are still not well understood. WHO has now applied the Delphi method to project HIV prevalence from the year 1988 to mid-2000. This method attempts to improve the quality of the judgements and estimates for relatively uncertain issues by the systematic use of knowledgeable "experts". The mean value of the Delphi projections for HIV prevalence in the year 2000 is between 3 and 4 times the 1988 base estimate of 5.1 million; these projections have been used to obtain annual estimates of adult AIDS cases up to the year 2000. Coordinated HIV/AIDS prevention and control programmes are considered by the Delphi participants to be potentially capable of preventing almost half of the new HIV infections that would otherwise occur between 1988 and the year 2000. However, more than half of the approximately 5 million AIDS cases which are projected for the next decade will occur despite the most rigorous and effective HIV/AIDS prevention efforts since these AIDS cases will develop in persons whose HIV infection was acquired prior to 1989. The Delphi projections of HIV infection and AIDS cases derived from the WHO projection model need to be periodically reviewed and modified as additional data become available. These projections should be viewed as the first of many attempts to develop estimates for planning strategies to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1990s.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delphi Technique
  • Female
  • Forecasting*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • World Health Organization