Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Estimating HIV prevalence

A cautious note on household surveys in poor settings

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 16 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6323
  1. Wendy Janssens, research fellow1,
  2. Ingrid de Beer, general manager2,
  3. Hannah M Coutinho, medical officer3,
  4. Gert van Rooy, research fellow4,
  5. Jacques van der Gaag, director, senior fellow15,
  6. Tobias F Rinke de Wit, director, advocacy, technology and research 3
  1. 1Amsterdam Institute for International Development, 1105 BM Amsterdam, Netherlands
  2. 2PharmAccess Foundation Namibia, First Floor Angola House, Windhoek, Namibia
  3. 3PharmAccess Foundation, 1105 BM Amsterdam, Netherlands
  4. 4Multidisciplinary Research and Consultancy Centre (MRCC), University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
  5. 5Brookings Institution, Washington, DC 20036, USA
  1. wjanssens{at}

The World Health Organization’s HIV prevalence estimates have recently been adjusted downwards, mostly because of new data from population based surveys.1 But such surveys are limited by surveyor bias—they are typically performed on large numbers of respondents by small numbers of surveyors—and this could disproportionately influence (worldwide) HIV prevalence estimates.

In 2007 a population based household …

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