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The Spectrum program is used to estimate key HIV indicators for national programmes. The purpose of the study is to describe the key updates made to Spectrum in the last 2 years to produce the version used in the 2013 global estimates of HIV/AIDS.The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Reference Group on Estimates, Models and Projections regularly reviews new data and information needs and recommends updates to the methodology and assumptions used in Spectrum. The latest data from surveys, census and special studies are used to estimate key parameter values for countries and regions.Country-specific life tables prepared by the United National Population Division (UNPD) have been incorporated into Spectrum's demographic projections replacing the model life tables used previously. This update includes revised estimates of non-AIDS life expectancy. Incidence among all adults 15–49 years generated from curve fitting to surveillance and survey data is now split by age using incidence rate ratios derived from Analysing Longitudinal Population-based HIV/AIDS data on Africa Network data for generalized epidemics. Methods for estimating the number of AIDS orphans have been updated to include the changing effects of PMTCT and antiretroviral therapy programmes. Procedures for estimating the number of adults eligible for treatment have been updated to reflect the 2013 WHO guidelines. Program data on AIDS mortality has been used to estimate prevalence trends in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico for the 2013 estimates.Spectrum was updated for the 2013 round of HIV estimates in order to support national programmes with improved methods and data to estimating national indicators.