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Probabilistic Population Projections for Countries with Generalized HIV/AIDS Epidemics

David J. Sharrow, Jessica L Godwin, Adrian Elmes Raftery, Samuel Clark and Yanjun He

September 2016 CSSS Working Paper #156



The United Nations (UN) issued official probabilistic population projections for all countries to 2100 in July 2015. This was done by simulating future levels of total fertility and life expectancy from Bayesian hierarchical models, and combining the results using a standard cohort-component projection method. The 40 countries with generalized HIV/AIDS epidemics were treated differently from others, in that the projections used the highly multistate Spectrum/EPP model, a complex 15-compartment model that was designed for short-term projections of quantities relevant to policy for the epidemic. Here we propose a simpler approach that is more compatible with the existing UN probabilistic projection methodology for other countries. Changes in life expectancy are projected probabilistically using a simple time series regression model on current life expectancy, HIV prevalence and ART coverage. These are then converted to age- and sex-specific mortality rates using a new family of model life tables designed for countries with HIV/AIDS epidemics that reproduces the characteristic hump in middle adult mortality. These are then input to the standard cohort-component method, as for other countries. The method performed well in an out-of sample cross-validation experiment. It gives similar population projections to Spectrum/EPP in the short run, while being simpler and avoiding multistate modeling.

Keywords: Bayesian hierarchical model, Cohort-component projection method, Estimation and Projection Package, Mortality, Multistate model, Model life table, Spectrum, UNAIDS, World Population Prospects