HIV rises among pregnant women
Pretoria - The HIV-prevalence among pregnant women in the country has increased from 29.4% to 30.2%, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said in Pretoria on Tuesday.
"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.
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.
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.
"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 spokesperson Mike Waters said in a statement on Monday.
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.