Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Comparison of adult HIV prevalence from national population-based surveys and antenatal clinic surveillance in countries with generalised epidemics: implications for calibrating surveillance data
  1. E Gouws1,
  2. V Mishra2,
  3. T B Fowler3
  1. 1
    Epidemiology and Analysis Division; Evidence, Monitoring and Policy Department; Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2
    Demographic and Health Research Division, Macro International Inc, Calverton, Maryland, USA
  3. 3
    US Census Bureau, Washington, USA
  1. Eleanor Gouws, Epidemiology and Analysis Division, Evidence, Monitoring and Policy Department, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Geneva, Switzerland; Gouwse{at}


Background: Estimates of the impact of HIV in countries with generalised epidemics are generally based on antenatal clinic surveillance data collected over time. In an attempt to obtain geographically more representative estimates of HIV prevalence, many countries are now also conducting national population-based surveys in which HIV testing is included. We compare adult HIV prevalence estimates from antenatal clinic surveillance to those from national population-based surveys to assess the implications for calibrating surveillance data.

Methods: HIV prevalence estimates derived from fitting prevalence curves to antenatal clinic surveillance data are statistically compared to prevalence from national population-based surveys using data from 26 countries with generalised epidemics for the year in which the survey was conducted. Appropriate transformations are applied to inform the correction factors needed to adjust prevalence in countries where population-based surveys have not been conducted.

Results: HIV prevalence derived from antenatal clinic surveillance data generally overestimate population-based survey prevalence by about 20% (95% confidence interval: 10% to 30%) in both urban and rural areas.

Conclusions: In countries where national population-based HIV surveys have been conducted, survey estimates of HIV prevalence (adjusted for potential survey biases as appropriate) can be used directly to calibrate antenatal clinic surveillance data. In countries where national HIV surveys have not been conducted, HIV prevalence derived from antenatal clinic surveillance data should be multiplied by about 0.8 to adjust for overestimation.

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Competing interests: None.

  • Contributors: EG conducted the statistical analysis presented in this paper and wrote the first draft of the paper. All authors provided input to the analysis and contributed to writing the final version of the paper.

  • Disclaimer: This paper is released to inform interested parties of ongoing research and to encourage discussion. The views expressed on methodological issues are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the US Census Bureau.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.