HIV/Aids deaths among young people have more than doubled in five years, but the health department says there is no cause for alarm. The mortality figures in a new Statistics SA document simply reflect more accurate reporting, says Yogan Pillay, the deputy director-general for HIV/Aids, TB, and maternal, child and women’s health in a report in The Times.
“We’ve been training doctors to code HIV. So we are getting a more accurate measure of HIV-related deaths,” he said. “For a long time, families did not want it to be known that someone died of HIV.”
The improved reporting in the latest stats, covering the five years from 2009-2014, had also helped distinguish between HIV-related and TB deaths. “TB is the largest contributor to HIV deaths, even more than HIV,” he said. TB and intestinal infectious diseases remain the leading causes of death among men and women aged between 15 and 34.
HIV deaths in men went from 11.6% of the total in 2008 to 28.2% in 2013. In women, the number increased from 12.6% of deaths in 2008 to 29% in 2013.
According to UNAids, Aids-related deaths have fallen by 42% since the peak in 2004. In 2014, 1.2m people died from Aids-related causes worldwide compared to 2m in 2005. TB-related deaths in people living with HIV have fallen by 32% worldwide since 2004. UNAids said TB remained the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, “accounting for around one in three Aids-related deaths”.