HIV numbers up by almost 20% – but it ‘could be good news’

2013-06-20 08:49

An estimated 6.4 million South Africans were living with HIV last year – an increase of about 20% compared with 2008 when 5.4 million people did so.

While these figures seemingly paint a grim picture of South Africa’s efforts in fighting HIV and Aids, Dr Olive Shisana, chief executive officer of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), said this could be good news.

She explained: “If the number of people who are HIV positive increases, it means that there is something we are doing well because people are living longer.”

“When one analyses the data, you realise that HIV prevalence is growing among adults which means those are people who were infected years ago. They have probably started taking antiretroviral treatment and are therefore living longer,” she said.

The HSRC conducts the national HIV household survey every four years to measure HIV prevalence (the total number of HIV positive people) and HIV incidence (the number of new HIV infections) in the country.

These figures are contained in the preliminary findings of the survey, which were released at the South African Aids conference in Durban last night.

The findings also show that women continue to bear the brunt of HIV, especially those between the ages of 30 and 39 years.

Said Dr Thomas Rehle of the HSRC: “A third of all people on antiretroviral treatment in South Africa are between the age of 30 to 39 years, the majority of who are women. This explains the HIV prevalence is very high in this group – they are testing and if positive starting with treatment and living longer,” he said.

Although the national HIV household survey measures both HIV incidence and prevalence, the incidence results were not presented at the Aids conference.

Shisana said researchers have to still analyse the data. “We should release that data in the next six weeks.”

More key findings of the 2012 survey:

» National HIV prevalence is at 12.3%, up from 10.6% in 2008

» HIV prevalence among females is at 23.3%, compared with 13.3% in males

» KwaZulu-Natal has the highest HIV prevalence at 27.6%, followed by the Eastern Cape at 26%

» HIV prevalence among 15 to 24-year-olds decreased to 7.3%, from 8.7% in 2008

» About 2 million people are taking ARVs – 1.4 million women and 605 670 men

» The headline of this story was updated after first published to make a clear distinction between the HIV rate (the number of people with HIV as a percentage of the population), which increased by 16% – to 12.3% – and the number of people with HIV, which increased by 19%.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.