Almost half of women working on farms around Limpopo and Mpumalanga are HIV positive, compared to only a third of the male workforce, according to a study.
The study, conducted by the International Organisation on Migration, from March to May 2010, focused on 23 farms in Malelane, Tzaneen and Musina.
The study found that an overall 39.5% the farming workforce who anonymously gave blood specimens for testing are HIV positive.
Women accounted for almost half, said Mark Colvin who lead the research.
Highest prevalence ever reported
The 39.5% infection rate in these 23 farms was twice the UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids) national prevalence percentage of 18.1% in South Africa.
It was also the highest HIV prevalence ever reported among a working population.
Colvin could not pin-point a single factor causing this high rate of HIV infection on these farms.
He highlighted a multitude of factors such as multiple and concurrent partnerships, transactional sex, irregular condom use, presence of sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence.
(Sapa, November 2010)