This review addresses some of the recent issues surrounding the measurement of quality of life of people living with HIV and AIDS and discusses the properties of suitable instruments. More than 300 articles on quality of life in HIV and AIDS published since 1995 have been appraised. The structure and properties of two broad types of measure are considered: economic indicators or scales and subjective measures. While several good scales have been created for the assessment of people living with HIV infection, few were found to be conceptually comprehensive in terms of the dimensions offered for evaluation. Almost all these instruments were developed in the USA. Simple translation methods provide language versions that lack cross-cultural equivalence. A new cross-cultural methodology has recently been achieved in the development of the WHOQOL-HIV instrument as a measure for international research and its development is described.