Mistaken Prediction #2


When we try to predict the future, we often allow our assumptions to argue for our own limitations, sometimes at our peril. In this series of Mistaken Predictions, we deride predictions that close our minds to the future and celebrate our collective visions that allowed us to imagine alternative scenarios. Equipped with tools that open us to near limitless options, we cheer the fact that the future is inherently unpredictable.

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“That virus [HIV] is a pussycat.”
–Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, 1988

By 2006, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization estimated that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on December 1, 1981. During 2008 more than two and a half million adults and children became infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the virus that causes AIDS. By the end of the year, an estimated 33.4 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS. The year also saw two million deaths from AIDS, despite recent improvements in access to antiretroviral treatment.

The latest statistics of the global HIV and AIDS were published by UNAIDS in November 2009, and refer to the end of 2008.

Estimate Range
People living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 33.4 million 31.1-35.8 million
Adults living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 31.3 million 29.2-33.7 million
Women living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 15.7 million 14.2-17.2 million
Children living with HIV/AIDS in 2008 2.1 million 1.2-2.9 million
People newly infected with HIV in 2008 2.7 million 2.4-3.0 million
Children newly infected with HIV in 2008 0.43 million 0.24-0.61 million
AIDS deaths in 2008 2.0 million 1.7-2.4 million
Child AIDS deaths in 2008 0.28 million 0.15-0.41 million

Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans.

At the end of 2008, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide.

In developing and transitional countries, 9.5 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 4 million (42%) are receiving the drugs.

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One Response to “Mistaken Prediction #2”

  1. Tim Says:

    To be fair, this wasn’t so much a mistaken prediction as a contrarian hypothesis. Duesberg is the leading proponent of the view that HIV does not cause AIDS, although very few in the scientific community support his hypothesis.


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