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International News
South Africa Has Highest Number of New HIV Infections Worldwide: Survey

April 2, 2014

This article was reported by Mail & Guardian.

The Mail & Guardian reported that HIV prevalence among South Africans rose to 12.2 percent in 2012 (6.4 million HIV-infected people), according to the Human Sciences Research Council's (HRSC) National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, and Behavior Survey. The national HIV household survey would provide benchmarks to evaluate the health department's 2012-2016 national strategic plans for HIV, TB, and STDs. The 2012 survey included approximately 38,000 people, 29,000 of whom agreed to have HIV testing. Based on the latest survey, South Africa was unlikely to reach the target of reducing HIV transmission by 50 percent by 2016. South Africa had the highest HIV incidence in the world.

HSRC attributed increased HIV prevalence to new HIV infections and to successful antiretroviral therapy (ART) that resulted in longer, healthier lives for HIV-infected people. Access to ART "almost doubled" from 2008 to 2012; approximately one-third of South Africa's HIV-infected people accessed ART in 2012.

HIV incidence among females ages 15-24 was four times higher than males; incidence among female teenagers was eight times higher than among male teens. Black African females ages 20-34 had the highest incidence of all groups. HIV incidence was considerably lower among married South Africans than among cohabiting unmarried people.

The highest HIV incidence occurred among black Africans (15 percent), "colored people" (3.1 percent), Indians or Asians (0.8 percent), and whites (0.3 percent). Black Africans were more likely to live in rural areas with less access to preventive health services and were less likely to be married. Female teenagers were more likely to have sex with partners more than five years older than they were. The lowest condom use rate occurred among unmarried, cohabiting people ages 15-49. HSRC Chief Executive Olive Shisana urged that prevention strategies should align with "underlying sociocultural norms in the affected communities."

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