UN Reduces Estimate on AIDS Epidemics

WASHINGTON -- The United Nations has slashed its estimates of how many people have the AIDS virus, from nearly 40 million to 33 million.

In a report to be issued on Tuesday, the UN says revised estimates on HIV in India account for a large part of the decrease.

The agency admitted that it overestimated how many people are infected with the incurable virus and said better methods of collecting data showed it was not quite a common as feared.

"The single biggest reason for this reduction was the intensive exercise to assess India's HIV epidemic, which resulted in a major revision of that country's estimates," the report said.

After originally estimating some 5.7 million people were infected in India, the UN more than halved that estimate, to 2.5 million.

"These improved data present us with a clearer picture of the AIDS epidemic, one that reveals both challenges and opportunities," UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot said in a statement.

"Unquestionably, we are beginning to see a return on investment -- new HIV infections and mortality are declining and the prevalence of HIV leveling. But with more than 6,800 new infections and over 5,700 deaths each day due to AIDS, we must expand our efforts in order to significantly reduce the impact of AIDS worldwide."