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To examine the quality of HIV sero-surveillance systems in 127 low-income and middle-income countries by 2007, as well as gaps in data needed for reliable estimates of HIV prevalence and size of populations at risk for infection.The quality of countries’ surveillance systems was scored using information from 2001 through 2007. Sero-surveillance data were compiled from the US Census Bureau’s HIV/AIDS Surveillance Database, from countries’ national HIV surveillance reports available to UNAIDS, from demographic and health survey (DHS) data, from the scientific literature and from countries’ Estimation and Projection Programme (EPP) data files. The quality of systems was scored according to the classification of the epidemic in each country (generalised, concentrated or low-level).The number of countries categorised as fully functioning in 2007 was 40. 43 countries were identified as partially functioning while 44 were categorised as poorly functioning. Low scores were most often attributed to a lack of recent data or data from appropriate risk groups.Many countries still have poorly functioning surveillance systems. The inclusion of HIV testing in national population-based surveys in recent years has resulted in some countries with generalised epidemics receiving higher coverage scores, but many countries with concentrated or low-level epidemics continue to lack data on high-risk populations.