Statistical methods for short‐term projections of AIDS incidence

Ron Brookmeyer, Anne Damiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Short‐term projections of AIDS incidence are critical for assessing future health care needs. This paper focuses on the method of back‐calculation for obtaining short‐term projections. The approach consists of back‐calculating from AIDS incidence data through use of the incubation period distribution to obtain estimates of the numbers previously infected. The numbers previously infected are then projected forward to obtain short‐term projections. An approach is suggested for accounting for new infections in short‐term projections of AIDS incidence. Back‐calculation requires accurate AIDS incidence data. A method which is computationally easy to implement is proposed for estimating the distribution of the delays in reporting AIDS cases. It was found that the reporting delay distribution in the United States varies by geographic region of diagnosis. Back‐calculation also requires a reliable estimate of the incubation period distribution. Statistical issues associated with estimating the incubation period distribution are considered. The methods are applied to obtain short‐term projections of AIDS incidence in the United States. The projected cumulative AIDS incidence in the U.S. by the end of 1992 was 287,100 under the assumption that there are no new infections after 1 July 1987, and 330,600 under the assumption that the infection rate remains constant. These projections do not account for the new broadened AIDS surveillance definitions or the underreporting of AIDS cases to the Centers for Disease Control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalStatistics in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • AIDS
  • Epidemic projections
  • Incubation period
  • Multinomial distribution
  • Poisson

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Statistics and Probability


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