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Tuesday 15 November 2005
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SOUTH AFRICA: AIDS named as leading cause of death

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

JOHANNESBURG, 17 May (PLUSNEWS) - HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death in South Africa, according to a new Medical Research Council (MRC) report on cause-specific death rates for each of the country's nine provinces.

Findings from the report, 'Estimates of Provincial Mortality', show that while overall rates and causes of death differed, AIDS was the number one cause of death in all provinces except the Western Cape, which has the lowest HIV prevalence figures in the country.

In Gauteng, for instance, the pandemic accounted for 33 percent of all deaths in 2000, compared with 30 percent of all deaths nationally, while KwaZulu-Natal was the hardest-hit province, with about 42 percent of all deaths attributed to HIV/AIDS.

The high death rate "highlights the urgency to accelerate the implementation of a comprehensive plan for the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS," the MRC commented.

According to the report, these estimates were for 2000 and it was likely that deaths due to AIDS had increased over the last few years.

Nevertheless, the free provision of nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus, as well as the rollout of the national treatment programme, "should slow down the increase in the mortality rates," the council said.

Deaths from diarrhoeal disease, tuberculosis (TB) and nutritional deficiencies were found to be more likely in the poorer, more rural provinces.

The report is the first to provide cause-specific death rates for each province. "With these statistics, provinces will be able to respond to the specific health needs of the population in that province," it noted.

But the researchers warned that collecting such data was "not straightforward", as many deaths were still classified as "undetermined unnatural causes" and "unspecified natural causes".

AIDS deaths were also under-represented "as a result of misclassification ... [of] the immediate cause of death".

For more information:


Recent SOUTH AFRICA Reports
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
Churchmen move towards disclosing their HIV-positive status,  23/Sep/05
New effort to ease community's HIV/AIDS woes,  16/Sep/05

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