08/31/2007, 00.00
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UN AIDS agency accused of inflating numbers to get more money

US epidemiologist makes the charges. Latest data for India and Cambodia indicate lower number of infected people. UNAIds responds that lower figures are the result of better survey methods.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The United Nations agency that fights HIV/AIDS, UNAids, has intentionally inflated the number of people infected with the virus in order to get more money from donors, this according to US epidemiologist James Chin who makes the accusation in his book The Aids Pandemic. The UNAids’ latest HIV data seems in fact to back his thesis.

In June India dramatically reduced its estimate of the number of people infected from 5.7 million to a range of 2-3 million.

The earlier estimate had given the South Asian country the distinction of having more cases of HIV than any other country, including South Africa.

An equally sharp reduction was recorded in Cambodia, where the estimated infection rate was cut from 1.6 per cent to 0.6 per cent of adults.

Prasada Rao, the regional director of UNAids, said the decreases were a result of improved science and demonstrated the agency's willingness to embrace new data.

Mr Rao said UNAids reduced its estimates for both India and Cambodia because of improved surveys.

Earlier estimates were made based on data from clinics around each country.

The new data came from random surveys of households, which provided a broader picture.

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