07 May 2008

5.6 million in SA HIV positive

5.6 million South Africans are infected with HIV, according to new estimates that contradict controversial figures released over the weekend.

It is estimated that 5.6 million South Africans are infected with HIV, said the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA) on Tuesday.

In a statement, The Actuarial Society said its projections from the ASSA 2003 Aids and demographic model provided a projected estimate of HIV positive South Africans in 2008.

The HIV prevalence rates from the ASSA 2003 model are "roughly consistent" with the national prevalence survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

The Actuarial Society said its mortality estimates were similar to the recent statistics released in February by Statistics South Africa.

The ASSA 2003 model estimates that 20 percent of South Africans between the ages 20 and 64 are HIV positive.

The model also predicts that 510 000 new HIV infections will occur this year, while 370 000 Aids related deaths will occur in the same period.

The model suggests that 650 000 South Africans have full blown Aids.

KwaZulu-Natal province has the highest number of HIV positive people in the country, showing a record high of 1.6 million.

The Western Cape has the lowest, pegged at 300 000.

The society stressed that although the overall figure was lower than the Development Bank of South Africa's (DBSA's) estimates, the Aids situation was severe.

The DBSA has announced that a report on HIV statistics which had been released to the public had not been approved and validated.

Experts were quick to question these figures, claiming that they were based on an outdated model and did not take in to account various changes in Aids treatment.

Nathan Geffen of the Treatment Action Campaign went as far as accusing the DBSA of plagiarising earlier work done by the ASSA. He was also highly critical of the fact that the findings were released to the media before publication.

The Sunday Independent on the weekend reported the controversial DBSA statistics according to which more than 7.6 million South Africans were HIV positive.

This figure was 2.2 million more than the Department of Health's figures for 2007 and 2 million more than the new ASSA figures. – (Sapa/Health24)

Read more:
HIV/Aids Centre
Aids stats plagiarised?

May, 2008


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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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