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Government releases long awaited AIDS figures
Tuesday 16 November 2004
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SOUTH AFRICA: Government releases long awaited AIDS figures

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

JOHANNESBURG, 11 September (PLUSNEWS) - The number of HIV-positive people in South Africa increased by 12 percent last year, but the spread of the epidemic may be slowing down, according to a long-awaited report released by the government on Wednesday.

The delay in releasing the data, which is usually published in April, was a cause of further tension between the government and the country's AIDS activists.

The figures were based on a national antenatal survey conducted in October 2002, which gathered HIV information from 16,500 pregnant women at 396 state antenatal clinics throughout the country.

Projections based on a model developed by the national health department estimate that the total number of HIV-positive people in the country grew from 4.74 million in 2001 to 5.3 million in 2002.

Women continue to be the hardest-hit population group. Approximately 34.5 percent of pregnant women between 25 and 29 in South Africa were HIV-positive, and about 29.5 percent of pregnant women aged 30 to 34 were living with the virus.

But the study found that HIV prevalence for pregnant women under age 20 remained stable for the fourth year in a row. According to the report, the HIV prevalence among this age group is considered to be the most accurate indicator of whether new infections are on the rise.

The survey found an alarming increase in the HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women over the age of 40, which went from 9.8 percent in 2001 to 17.2 percent in 2002.

According to the study, KwaZulu-Natal province had the highest HIV prevalence rate - 36.5 percent, followed by Gauteng province at 31.6 percent.

The study also found that 90,000 infants contracted HIV from their mothers in 2002, roughly equivalent to 250 cases of vertical HIV transmission each day.

"These findings support the view that, although the HIV infection rate is high in South Africa, there has been a significant slowing down in the spread of the epidemic, and South Africa can be considered to have a slow-developing epidemic," the report said, adding that the country's epidemic had the characteristics of mature HIV epidemics around the world.


Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
Women street traders falling through the cracks,  11/Nov/04
Child welfare system leaves many AIDS orphans stranded,  9/Nov/04
Gender equality needed in national HIV/AIDS policy,  8/Nov/04
TAC takes govt to court over ARV rollout timetable,  4/Nov/04
AIDS drugs needed for HIV positive children,  3/Nov/04
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Mothers and HIV/AIDS

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