UNAIDS Reference Group on Estimates, Modeling, and Projections (October 2017)

On October 17, 2017, MeSH participated in the UNAIDS Reference Group on Estimates, Modeling, and Projections.

This group is an international ‘open cohort’ of epidemiologists, demographers, statisticians, and public health experts who support and guide United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in generating HIV estimates across the world. The purpose of this meeting was to improve the tools used to generate estimates and projections of HIV by reviewing current methods used by UNAIDS and novel methodological developments.

Methods related to indicators among key populations were highlighted during the Fall 2017 reference group meeting. A fast-paced and dynamic “key populations” session featured 3 substantive talks on extrapolating key population size estimates by Le Bao, Abhirup Datta, and Jess Edwards. Keith Sabin and Stef Baral led an important discussion about the utility of key population estimates in the global models used by this group to learn about HIV epidemic dynamics. The group discussed the appropriate granularity of key population-related estimates, issues of mismatch between estimates available for key populations and other estimates, and the effect of uncertainty in key population size estimates on other models. Specifically, the mathematical modelers in attendance noted that bias in the estimated size of key populations could produce errors in the shape of HIV epidemic curves, especially if key population sizes changed over time.

These discussions will shape future efforts to improve national and international estimates and projections for HIV by appropriately considering the role of key populations in epidemic dynamics, with the overall goal of improving national and international programming to end the HIV epidemic world wide.

Jessie K. Edwards, PhD

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology

UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health