The Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Drudge lead with the United Nations' staggering recalculation of global AIDS figures, just months after India cut its estimate of those infected by more than 2 million. According to the Post, "The United Nations' top AIDS scientists plan to acknowledge this week that they have long overestimated both the size and the course of the epidemic, which they now believe has been slowing for nearly a decade, according to U.N. documents prepared for the announcement." A pair of experts interviewed by the Post suggest that the overestimation of infections was part of a deliberate deception aimed at raising more aid money:
"There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said Helen Epstein, author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." "I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way."
James Chin, a former World Health Organization AIDS expert who has long been critical of UNAIDS, said that even these revisions may not go far enough. He estimated the number of cases worldwide at 25 million.
"If they're coming out with 33 million, they're getting closer. It's a little high, but it's not outrageous anymore," Chin, author of "The AIDS Pandemic: The Collision of Epidemiology With Political Correctness," said from Berkeley, Calif.
Chin, a clinical professor of epidemiology at the University of California at Berkeley, has been making this argument for some time now; his book, according to the AFP, accuses "UNAIDS of intentionally inflating its estimates of how many people have HIV in order to dramatize the epidemic and win more money from donors." Today, he tells the Associated Press, UNAIDS "finally got caught with their pants down."
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