Word Usage: Incidence and Prevalence
If you find these terms confusing, you are not alone. This word usage tip reviews the correct use of this troublesome word pair.
incidence (noun): the number of new cases of a specific disease in a given population over time
The incidence rate for asthma increased from 38 cases per 100,000 in 1990 to 40 cases per 100,000 in 1991.
prevalence (noun): the number of existing cases of a specific disease in a given population at any given time, regardless of when the disease developed
The prevalence of HIV infection in young adults aged 21 to 24 years was 0.1% in the United States in 2004.
Quick Tips: Prevalence and Incidence
Iverson C, Christiansen S, Flanagin A, et al. AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors. 10th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2007.
Council of Science Editors, Style Manual Committee. Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers 7th ed. Reston, VA: The Council; 2006.
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