07 May 2009

Drinkers: 57% higher HIV risk

Drinkers are 57% more likely to be HIV-positive than non-drinkers, a Medical Research Council representative said on Wednesday.


Drinkers are more likely to be HIV-positive than non-drinkers, a Medical Research Council representative said on Wednesday.

"A review of more than 20 studies in Africa have indicated that drinkers are 57 percent more likely to be HIV positive than non-drinkers," Dr Neo Morofele told a conference on sexual assault and domestic violence in Benoni, Johannesburg.

South Africans 'heavy drinkers'
South Africa was amongst countries with the highest drinking levels in the world, she told a packed room during the conference, hosted by USAid and the SA Population Council.

"Levels of drinking are extremely high with plus-minus 17 litres consumed by one person per year. It has been proven that alcohol leads to violence and it makes one aggressive."

South Africa gained R12 billion in tax revenue a year from alcohol sales.

The burden of alcohol abuse
Morofele said there was more than a single strategy to reduce the burden of alcohol abuse.

She cited amongst other measures such as lessening access to alcohol by changing the minimum purchasing age and hours of sale. Other suggestions were increasing excise taxes on alcohol, and intensifying education as well as ensuring treatment at an early stage of problematic drinking.

According to a Population Council booklet distributed at the conference, adult men and the handicapped were often neglected in research and intervention when it came to gender violence and abuse. Gender-based violence and forced sex were highly prevalent in sub-saharan Africa.

A violent country
"In South Africa seven percent of 15-to-19-year-olds have been assaulted in the past 12 months by a current or ex-partner, while 10 percent of 15- to-19-year-olds were forced to have sex against their will." - (Sapa, May 2009)

Read more:
HIV/Aids Centre
Early HIV treatment best


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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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