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Is back-projection methodology still relevant for estimating HIV incidence from national surveillance data?

Mallitt KA, Wilson DP, McDonald A, Wand H

  • Journal The open AIDS journal

  • Published 07 Sep 2012

  • Volume 6

  • Pagination 108-11

  • DOI 10.2174/1874613601206010108


Accurate estimates of HIV incidence are crucial to understand the extent of transmission of the infection, evaluate intervention strategies and effectively plan new public health control measures. HIV/AIDS surveillance systems in numerous industrialised countries record the number of known new HIV and/or AIDS diagnoses, which are often used as a surrogate marker for HIV incidence. HIV/AIDS diagnosis data have been used to reconstruct historical HIV incidence trends using modified back-projection methods. Estimates of HIV incidence are most robust when reliable data on the number of incident infections, a subset of all diagnoses, is widely available, and surveillance systems should prioritize the collection of these data. Back-projection alone provides reliable estimates of HIV incidence in the past, but is not useful when estimating current or future HIV incidence. However, back-projection methodology should be used in conjunction with other corroborative methods to estimate current HIV incidence, and methods to combine the various techniques should be investigated.