(March 2007) The United Nations issued new world population projections this month that incorporate somewhat more optimistic assumptions about AIDS survival in developing countries, based on recent findings from government health surveys and on improved access to the most effective drugs.

The world population, now 6.7 billion, likely will rise to 9.2 billion by 2050, according to the mid-range estimates from the agency’s Population Division. The previous UN forecast, issued two years ago, had a slightly lower total of 9.1 billion for the 2050 population. Among world regions, only Europe is projected to decline in population. Most of the population increase will be in developing nations.

The new projections depend on key assumptions, among them that higher shares of people with AIDS will receive antiretroviral drugs in the 62 most affected countries, most of them in Africa. That assumption, combined with lowered prevalence found in recent government health surveys, means that 32 million fewer deaths will occur in those countries through 2020 than previously forecast, according to the new projections.

The UN projections can be accessed at: www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2006/wpp2006.htm

D’Vera Cohn, PRB Senior Editor