SA ranks first in HIV incidence in the world – HSRC survey’s grim finding

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With over 400, 000 new HIV infections occurring in 2012, SA ranks first in HIV incidence in the world, says an [b]Human Sciences Research Council[/b] survey. According to a [s]Mail & Guardian[/s] report, the [i]National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey for 2012[/i] showed that the total number of infected South Africans now stands at 6.4m – 12.2% of the population and 1.2m more than in 2008. Women aged between 30 and 34 and males aged 35 to 39 had the highest infection rates: 36% of females and 28.8% of males in these respective age groups contracted HIV. Provincially, KwaZulu-Natal has the highest HIV prevalence (16.9%) and the Western Cape the lowest (5%). The survey is the fourth in a series of national HIV household surveys conducted by a consortium of scientists led by the HSRC – the previous surveys were conducted in 2002, 2005 and 2008. The results will serve as a critical benchmark for the evaluation of the [b]Department of Health’s[/b] national strategic plan for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections for 2012 to 2016. Almost 38,000 people were interviewed and about 29,000 agreed to be tested for HIV.

[i]Unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners and ignorance have contributed to the infections[/i], reports [s]The Times[/s]. The number of HIV infections is not falling, despite years of Aids awareness programmes and the national distribution of free c ondoms. ‘We have underestimated our new HIV infections,’ said [b]Dr Fareed Abdullah, SA Aids Council CEO[/b]. ‘It is a big problem. A staggering quarter of all new cases are people between 15 and 24.’ [b]Dr Olive Shisana, HSRC CEO[/b], said the percentage had increased from 10% in 2008 because more people were on antiretrovirals and so were surviving.

[i]The youth seem to be aggravating the HIV problem[/i] – they make up the bulk of the age range of 15 to 49 which has been fingered, reports [s]SABC News[/s]. The study has also found that c ondom use has dropped. The [b]Department of Health[/b] is at this stage targeting distribution of new c ondoms at universities and other institutions of higher learning. ‘We want to issue a new type of c ondom that is coloured and flavoured to bring new excitement and we think it will rejuvenate c ondom use among youth,’ says [b]Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, SA’s Minister of Health[/b]. Also, the minister says, men are ‘problematic’ in the fight against HIV. ‘There are fewer men who have tested and agreed to test. We regard this as a big problem in the country’

[i]There are currently 2,4m people in SA on ARVs[/i], and this makes up 30% of the 8m people worldwide on ARVs, according to, Motsoaledi. [s]Health24[/s] reports that Motsoaledi said that SA had lost the battle against maternal mortality largely as a result of HIV/Aids and that life expectancy in SA is now what it was in 1955 – a regression of 60 years. And, reiterating the importance of medical research, he said that since SA carries the highest burden of HIV/Aids, SA should be at the forefront of finding that solution to the disease.

Full Mail & Guardian report
HSRC survey report
Full report in The Times
Full SABC News report
Full Health24 report

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