Exactly as conservative science writer Tom Bethell has been explaining for years:
The United Nations' top AIDS scientists plan to acknowledge this week that they have long overestimated both the size and the course of the epidemic, which they now believe has been slowing for nearly a decade, according to U.N. documents prepared for the announcement....
The latest estimates, due to be released publicly Tuesday, put the number of annual new HIV infections at 2.5 million, a cut of more than 40 percent from last year's estimate, documents show. The worldwide total of people infected with HIV -- estimated a year ago at nearly 40 million and rising -- now will be reported as 33 million.
Having millions fewer people with a lethal contagious disease is good news. Some researchers, however, contend that persistent overestimates in the widely quoted U.N. reports have long skewed funding decisions and obscured potential lessons about how to slow the spread of HIV. Critics have also said that U.N. officials overstated the extent of the epidemic to help gather political and financial support for combating AIDS.
"There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said Helen Epstein, author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." "I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way."
Here is how Bethell described this in 2000 (still a must-read):
Here is an "African AIDS" primer. Over the years AIDS American-style was redefined more and more expansively. In 1993, for example, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta added cervical cancer to the list of AIDS-defining diseases, with the unacknowledged goal of increasing the numbers of women. The overwhelming preponderance of males was an embarrassment to infectious-disease epidemiology, given that the viral agent was supposed to be sexually transmitted. AIDS is a name for 30-odd diseases found in conjunction with a positive test for antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus. Being "HIV positive," then, is the unifying requirement for an AIDS case. Here is the key point that the newspapers won't tell you. To diagnose AIDS in Africa, no HIV test is needed. The presence of the unifying agent that supposedly causes the immune deficiency, the ID of AIDS, does not have to be established....
Here are the major components of the definition: "prolonged fevers (for a month or more), weight loss of 10 percent or greater, and prolonged diarrhea." No HIV test, of course. What this meant was that many traditional African diseases, pandemic in poverty stricken areas with tropical climate, open latrines and contaminated drinking water, could now be called something else with no fear of contradiction: AIDS.
What Africa desperately needs is for a modicum of human decency in government, so that the fundamentals of health can be handed to them for free by the generous West, namely clean water, basic sewage and functional hospitals. Not AIDS cocktail drugs in the service of a liberal agenda.