Editorial: methodological developments in the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS estimates

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The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) publishes estimates of the HIV epidemic every year [1]. For 2016, estimates are available for 160 countries representing 98% of the global population. These estimates are produced by countries with guidance from UNAIDS. The methods used in this process continue to evolve over time under the stewardship of the UNAIDS Reference Group on Estimates, Modelling and Projections [2].
In 2014, the WHO convened the Guidelines for Accurate and Transparent Health Estimates Reporting (GATHER) Working Group with the aim to define and promote good practice in reporting global health estimates [3]. The GATHER Statement is the outcome produced by this group. It defines a list of reporting requirements to allow for the accurate interpretation, and facilitate the appropriate use, of global health estimates [4]. UNAIDS fully endorses and supports the GATHER Statement.
The current special supplement, which details the methods used to produce the 2016 UNAIDS estimates, further supports the routine publication of data sources and methods used as part of an open and transparent process. It provides updates of the evolving understanding of the data on which the estimates are based, the methods used to derive the estimates, justification of changes in these methods, and the sources of new data available to inform these modifications. It follows a series of such collections [5–10] which have documented and described the evolving methods used to produce the UNAIDS Global AIDS estimates since 2004.

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