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UNAIDS Guidelines on construction of core indicators

United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS
Monitoring the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS


July 2005

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The primary purpose of this document is to provide key constituents, who are actively involved in an individual country’s response to HIV and AIDS, with essential information on core indicators that measure the effectiveness of the national response. These guidelines will also help ensure the transparency of the process used by national governments and UNAIDS to prepare progress reports on implementation of the UNGASS Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.

Countries are strongly encouraged to integrate the core indicators into their ongoing monitoring and evaluation activities. These indicators are designed to help countries assess the current state of their national response while simultaneously contributing to a better understanding of the global response to the AIDS pandemic, including progress towards meeting the Declaration of Commitment targets. Given the parallel applications of the indicators, the guidelines in this document are designed to improve the quality and consistency of data collected at country level, which will enhance the accuracy of conclusions drawn from the data at both regional and global levels.

This document also includes an overview of global indicators that will be used by UNAIDS and its partners to assess key components of the response that are best measured on a worldwide basis.


At the close of the groundbreaking United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS in June 2001, 189 Member States adopted the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS. The Declaration of Commitment reflects global consensus on a comprehensive framework to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halting and beginning to reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2015.

Recognizing the need for multisectoral action on a range of fronts, the Declaration of Commitment addresses global, regional and country-level responses to prevent new HIV infections, expand healthcare access and mitigate the epidemic’s impact. Although it was governments that initially endorsed the Declaration of Commitment, the document’s vision extends far beyond the governmental sector—to private industry and labour groups, faith-based organizations, nongovernmental organizations and other civil-society entities, including organizations of people living with HIV.

Under the terms of the Declaration of Commitment, success in the response to AIDS is measured by the achievement of concrete, time-bound targets. The Declaration calls for careful monitoring of progress in implementing agreed-on commitments and requires the United Nations Secretary-General to issue progress reports annually. These reports are designed to identify problems and constraints and recommend action to accelerate realization of the Declaration’s targets.

In keeping with these mandates, in 2002 the UNAIDS Secretariat collaborated with UNAIDS Cosponsors and other partners to develop a series of core indicators to measure progress in implementing the Declaration of Commitment. The core indicators were grouped into four broad categories: (i) national commitment and action; (ii) national knowledge and behaviour; (iii) national impact; and (iv) global commitment and action. Once the indicators were developed, the UNAIDS Monitoring and Evaluation Unit established clear defi nitions for each indicator and mechanisms for collecting information on an ongoing basis.

In 2003, 103 Member States submitted national reports to UNAIDS based on the original core indicators. Of these reports, 29 were from sub-Saharan Africa, 17 from Asia and the Pacifi c, 21 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 14 from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, eight from North African and the Middle East and 14 from high-income countries. In most cases, National AIDS Committees or equivalent bodies oversaw compilation of the national report and more than three quarters of them included input from three or more government ministries. Civil society was involved in the preparation of roughly two thirds of the reports and people living with HIV and AIDS were involved in just over half of them.

From a global perspective, there were serious limitations to the data submitted in 2003 for the UNAIDS Progress Report on the Global Response to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic (Global Progress Report). For example, while almost all of the countries completed the National Composite Policy Index questionnaire, only 40% of the countries that submitted reports supplied information related to other national indicators. In addition, less than 20% of the national-level data submitted was disaggregated by gender, age, location, etc., which further complicated the ability to draw valid conclusions from the data. There was also an uneven level of reporting between regions, with the highest proportion of responding countries per region coming from sub-Saharan Africa and the lowest level of reporting from countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

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