Aids-related deaths decline by almost half since early 2000s, says Stats SA

Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke. (GCIS)
Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke. (GCIS)
  • It is estimated that the proportion of Aids-related deaths declined by almost half between 2002 and 2020 - from 30.6% to just over 15%.
  • Infections, however, increased over the same period.
  • In 2002, according to the report, there were an estimated 3.8 million people with HIV.
  • In 2020, the total number of people living with HIV is estimated at approximately 7.8 million.


It is estimated that the proportion of Aids-related deaths has declined by almost half, from 30.6% of all deaths in 2002 to just over 15% in 2020.

On Thursday, Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke released the Mid-Year Population Estimates (MYPE) for 2020, which look at different statistics between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020.

In his presentation, Maluleke looked at the proportion of Aids-related deaths, and the total number of estimated deaths over time.

Since the peak of Aids-related deaths in 2006, the number linked to the disease has been declining steadily year on year, according to the report.

It is also estimated, however, that the number of people living with HIV has increased since 2002.

In 2002, according to the report, there were an estimated 3.8 million people living with HIV. In 2020, the total number is estimated to be approximately 7.8 million, Maluleke said.

The estimated overall prevalence rate of HIV is approximately 13% among the South African population.

Stats SA, Aids related deaths
The proportion of Aids-related deaths to total deaths in SA over time, according to Stats SA estimates (MYPE report 2020)

In 2017, Statistics South Africa's report on mortality and causes of death  which used death certificates from the Department of Home Affairs  recorded 21 439 HIV-related deaths in 2017, accounting for 4.8% of the total deaths recorded in that year.

However, because HIV is not a notifiable disease, the family can request that the medical form does not indicate HIV as the cause of death, which will lead to the under-reporting of HIV-related deaths on death certificates.

The MYPE estimations therefore used a variety of information from different sources for these 2020 estimates.

Total deaths and life expectancy

According to the MYPE report, the total number of estimated deaths from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2019 was 515 804.

Maluleke says that, because this year's data had not yet been completed, Covid-19-related deaths were not added to the estimates, but would be added for next year's MYPE.

Life expectancy at birth has been on the increase since 2007, with an estimated average lifespan of 62.5 years for males and 68.5 years for females.

In terms of life expectancy by province, the Free State has a significantly lower life expectancy than the rest of South Africa.

According to the report, males in the Free State have a life expectancy of 56 years, while females have an average lifespan of 62 years.

The Western Cape has the highest life expectancy, with men expected to live for 65.7 years and women until the age of 71.

Infant mortality rates

Infant (IMF) and under-five-years-of-age (U5MR) mortality rates in South Africa also continue to drop, according to the report.

Maluleke said the IMR had declined from an estimated 55.5 infant deaths per 1 000 live births in 2002 to 23.6 in 2020.

Similarly, the U5MR had declined from 75.3 child deaths per 1 000 child births to 34.1 per 1 000 births between 2002 and 2020.

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