Updated 17 January 2014

HIV infections in SA fall by a third

According to a report, new HIV infections in South Africa have fallen by a third since 2004.

New HIV infections in South Africa have fallen by a third since 2004, according to a report handed to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Friday.

Between 2004 and 2012, the number of new HIV infections fell from an estimated 540,000 to 370,000, shows the report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids, commonly known as UNAIDS.

 "The general message is that it's good news," said UNAIDS country co-ordinator for South Africa Dr Catherine Sozi. Speaking at an event in Durban, where the report was handed to Motlanthe, she said the figures were compiled from a variety of sources, including the 2011 census and surveys.

 The number of Aids deaths fell by 30 percent from 330,000 in 2004 to 240,000 in 2012, and were projected to fall to below 150,000 in 2016. Sozi said government's increased roll-out of the antiretroviral (ARV) therapy programme had averted an estimated 780,000 deaths between 2004 and 2012.

Read: HIV rates stabilising?

Most of these, about 250,000, were estimated to have been in KwaZulu-Natal, the epicentre of the pandemic. An estimated 2.7 million people receive antiretroviral drugs in South Africa, making it the largest ARV programme in the world, according to Sozi. Most of those receiving treatment were women.

 Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said the department hoped to have 4.6 million people taking ARVs by 2016. He said it was important that every South African be tested for the disease at least once a year. In KwaZulu-Natal, the mother-to-child transmission rate had fallen from 20.5 percent in 2005 to 2.1 percent in 2011.

The national average stood at 2.7 percent. According to the report, the number of new infections among children under the age of 15 had fallen from 90,000 in 2004 to under 10,000 in 2013.

Children under 15 accounted for only six percent of new infections compared to 15 percent in 2004. In 2012, the number of children who had lost one or both parents to the disease was estimated to be 2.5 million.

Read more:

No new HIV infections in the next 20 years
HIV infection increasing in SA
Newborn HIV rates in Gauteng plummet



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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

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