Former UN envoy attacks UNAIDS for its “catatonic passivity”

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 29 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1111
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. London

    The former United Nations special envoy for AIDS in Africa has issued a scathing condemnation of UNAIDS (the joint UN and World Health Organization programme on HIV and AIDS) for its “catatonic passivity” in the face of the epidemic. He has also delivered a blistering criticism of the agency's latest report on prevalence.

    Stephen Lewis, who worked for the UN for more than two decades, holding the post of special envoy between 2001 and 2006, attacked UNAIDS for “delaying and dithering” in producing revised figures on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. He said the resulting report, the 2007 AIDS Epidemic Update, had served to divert the world's attention away from the “continuing apocalypse for sub-Saharan Africa” by focusing instead on the mathematical models and reasons for the adjusted figures.

    The report, which was released last week (, 24 Nov, News Extra doi: 10.1136/bmj.39406.611273.DB), showed that UNAIDS had overestimated the scale of the epidemic in 2007 and that the number of people with HIV or AIDS was 33 million rather than the 40 million it had …

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