More of us have HIV, but far fewer are dying

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South Africa has made strides in the fight against HIV and Aids in the past decade.

Ten years ago, 1 000 people were perishing from Aids-related deaths daily.

Slightly more than 100 000 of the infected millions were accessing life-saving antiretroviral drugs, while about 30% to 40% of babies were born HIV positive in 2002.

Today, the picture has changed dramatically. Life expectancy has risen by up to 10 years, Aids-related mortality has dropped significantly, fewer mothers infect their babies in pregnancy or at birth and more than 3 million people are on antiretroviral treatment.

While all this is good news, it does not mean South Africa has won the war against the disease.

HIV and Aids continue to ravage the nation with 6.4 million people estimated to be infected with the virus and 400 000 new infections recorded every year.

As world-acclaimed epidemiologist Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim noted at the seventh SA Aids conference in Durban this past week, to end the HIV epidemic “we need a vaccine and a cure”.

The reality of finding a cure or vaccine in the next few years is slim, considering that HIV evolves constantly and scientists are finding it difficult to pin down the nature of the virus.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Huge interventions in the past decade are yielding positive results. The Aids epidemic stats between 2005 and 2015 tell the story.

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