A model-based approach for estimating the mean incubation period of transfusion-associated acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.


The incubation period, representing the interval between the date of exposure and the date of diagnosis, can be firmly ascertained in transfusion-associated cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, because the observation period of all transfusion-infected persons may be short compared with the average incubation period for AIDS, many cases with long incubation periods have not yet been diagnosed. Thus, the simple average of 2.6 years tends to underestimate the true mean. To correct for this underestimation bias, we assumed that the underlying distribution of the incubation periods is a member of a broad class of probability densities. Then, by maximum likelihood techniques, the mean incubation period for transfusion-associated AIDS was estimated to be 4.5 years, with the 90% confidence interval ranging from 2.6 to 14.2 years. The long incubation period has important consequences for infected individuals and implications for public health intervention and prevention policy.

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