The number of people infected with
HIV in South Africa has risen from 5.4 million in 2008 to 6.4 million at
present, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) revealed this week during
the 6th South African Aids Conference, in Durban.
Women continue to be hardest-hit by the
pandemic, with approximately four million women and just over two million men
now living with the HI virus, HSRC said in its 2012 National HIV Household
The survey also found that HIV prevalence
among unmarried people (19.2%) is twice that of married people (9.8%) and that unmarried people also have more multiple sexual partners (two
or more) than married people.
Despite these alarming figures, South
Africans are not concerned enough to change their sexual habits.
No condoms please
Although more people are aware of their HIV
status, condom use has declined in all age groups.
However, the decline appeared to be more
pronounced among teens and young adults
“From the behavioural findings of the
survey, we can see a significant decline in condom use, especially among the 15
to 24 age group,” the HSRC’s Prof Leickness Simbayi told delegates at the
HSRC officials expressed concern over the
lack in behaviour change reflected by the poor rates of condom use.
“Condom use is one of the most effective
means to prevent HIV infection among sexually active people, and has
contributed to reductions in HIV infections in South Africa and other
countries,” HSRC CEO, Dr. Olive Shisana said, urging greater education on the
benefits of condom-use in the form of media campaigns and at school level.
While the alarming decline in
condom-use is of concern, it was, however, not entirely to blame for the increased HIV
HIV-positive people live longer
Unlike in the past, when antiretroviral
(ARV) drugs were hard to access, HIV-positive people were now living longer
because the drugs were helping to prolong their lives.
More than two million people (some 33% women and 27% men) now have access to ARVs in South Africa,
according to Medical Research Council findings.
Prof Simbayi also noted that the number of
people who were aware they had HIV had increased, which was good news, but
warned that more still needed to be done to address the pandemic.
As with most things medical, men proved
harder to reach than women when it came to testing, counselling and treatment.