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Sunday 18 December 2005
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SOUTH AFRICA: HIV/AIDS "indirectly" responsible for increased mortality - report

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

JOHANNESBURG, 21 February (PLUSNEWS) - South Africa experienced a 57 percent jump in reported deaths between 1997 and 2003, revealing a startling - if indirect - picture of the impact of HIV/AIDS, according to Statistics SA (Stats SA).

However, officials said AIDS-related diseases, such as tuberculosis, influenza or pneumonia, were often recorded as the cause of death on the certificate, making it difficult to establish the precise level of mortality attributable to HIV/AIDS.

The long awaited study, 'Mortality and Causes of Death in South Africa', noted that in 2001 TB had claimed the lives of 37,917 people aged between 15 and 49, while HIV/AIDS had claimed only 7,564.

Stats SA's acting deputy director-general for population statistics, Dr Liz Gavin, said the data provided indirect evidence that HIV/AIDS had contributed to the mortality level among prime-aged adults.

"Within the 15 to 49 age group, HIV did in fact emerge as one of the leading natural causes of death [because of the link between TB and AIDS]," Gavin told PlusNews.

The report's delayed release had fuelled speculation that Stats SA was seeking to conceal the number of AIDS-related deaths in the country.

Citing recent figures from the Medical Research Council of South Africa, British medical journal The Lancet charged that the number of AIDS-related deaths had to be at least three times higher than those in the Stats SA report.

"Social stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, tacitly perpetuated by the government's reluctance to bring the crisis out in the open and face it head on, prevents many from speaking out about the causes of illness ... and leads doctors to record uncontroversial diagnoses on death certificates," the Lancet said.

Gavin maintained that any delay in publishing the latest report had been the result of strict research policy, in order to make accurate mortality figures available to the public.

"There is no cover-up. While the HIV/AIDS epidemic is likely an important factor in the rising death rate, part of the increase could also be attributed to a growing overall population and improved data on deaths," she explained.

South Africa has around 5.3 million people, or one in five adults, living with HIV and AIDS - the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in the world.

Access the complete Stats SA report at: pdf Format


Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
National survey finds young women most at risk of HIV/AIDS,  1/Dec/05
AIDS activists take government to court again,  29/Nov/05
Poor governance blamed for US $10 million unspent in HIV/AIDS budget,  1/Nov/05
NAPWA partners with controversial Rath Foundation,  20/Oct/05
Trials test efficacy of diaphragms in preventing HIV/AIDS,  26/Sep/05
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Mothers and HIV/AIDS

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