Study Of AIDS Statistics Hinges On Debate Over Methods, Politics

WASHINGTON—At the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md., James Massey and his colleagues are holding their breath and waiting with fingers crossed for word from Dallas. Starting Sept. 26, researchers will be knocking on doors to collect blood samples and information about possible risk behaviors for AIDS from 1,600 Texans. The results of this pilot study will determine the future of the National Household Seroprevalence Survey, a planned $25 million project to canva

Elizabeth Pennisi
Sep 17, 1989

WASHINGTON—At the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md., James Massey and his colleagues are holding their breath and waiting with fingers crossed for word from Dallas. Starting Sept. 26, researchers will be knocking on doors to collect blood samples and information about possible risk behaviors for AIDS from 1,600 Texans. The results of this pilot study will determine the future of the National Household Seroprevalence Survey, a planned $25 million project to canvass U.S. neighborhoods in an effort to provide the nation’s best estimate of who may develop AIDS.

“If we have a failure in Dallas, it will mean the end of the survey,” says Massey, chief of survey design at the center. He is not the only one keeping a close eye on this project. During the past five years, statistical and mathematical experts used to working backstage are finding themselves blinded by the AIDS spotlight. They...

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