HIV/Aids

30 November 2011

Higher HIV prevalence in pregnant women

The HIV-prevalence among pregnant women in the country has increased from 29.4% to 30.2%, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in Pretoria.

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The HIV-prevalence among pregnant women in the country has increased from 29.4% to 30.2%, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in Pretoria.

"We're still far from winning the war, but we are getting somewhere," Motsoaledi said, releasing the National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence survey. It was made public eight months later than expected.

Motsoaledi said there was a high degree of stabilisation in the percentage increase of pregnant women between ages 16 to 24 who were infected. However, there had been an upward spike between the ages of 24 and 39.

Prevention methods applauded

He applauded prevention methods addressing the younger ages as reasons why the numbers had stayed within the confidence interval.

In the last five years, the department had set a target of prevalence estimates between 29.4 and 30.9%.

He attributed the high HIV prevalence in the older category to a lack of ARVs and counselling.

"We must accept the number of people on ARVs as we need to... decrease infections," he said.

KZN has highest prevalence

According to the survey, KwaZulu-Natal still had the highest prevalence of HIV-infected pregnant women, while the Northern and Western Cape were the lowest.

While the figures were still within the government's parameters, Motsoaledi said it would still continue to increase its ARV rollout and HIV/Aids prevention strategies.

"As many pregnant women as possible must be on ARVs," he said.

Reaching stability

"We believe our prevention methods might be reaching stability. With the younger ones the prevention methods may be working," said Motsoaledi.

The department was obliged to release a report of nationwide HIV prevalence rates every year. So far, the annual release of the report had been late every year, Democratic Alliance spokesman Mike Waters said in a statement.

The party had intended submitting an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act if the report was not released within 10 days.

(Sapa, November 2011) 

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HIV rate in pregnant women

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HIV/Aids expert

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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