South Africa's AIDS Epidemic Peaked in 2002; Number of New Infections Expected to Level Off, Study Says
October 21, 2003
South Africa's HIV/AIDS epidemic peaked in 2002 with 4.69 million HIV-positive people, and the epidemic is expected to level off as fewer new infections are reported, according to a study published in the current issue of the African Journal of AIDS Research, Reuters reports (Quinn, Reuters, 10/20). Thomas Rehle, an independent consultant in international health and disease control, and Olive Shisana of South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council developed a statistical model to project future epidemiological trends and the demographic impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa using data from the Department of Health's National Antenatal HIV Prevalence Survey and the 2002 Nelson Mandela/HSRC Study of HIV/AIDS (HSRC release, 10/20). The study is the first to use data from the Mandela/HSRC survey. According to the model, the number of new infections among people ages 15 to 49 -- a "leading indicator" of the progression of the epidemic -- decreased from 4.2% in 1997 to 1.7% in 2003, according to Reuters. In addition, overall HIV prevalence in the same age group was projected to decline from 17.3% in 2001 to 15.2% in 2010. Also, the researchers projected that the annual number of deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in South Africa will peak in 2008 with 487,320 deaths and will decline to 470,000 deaths by 2010 (Reuters, 10/20). However, the researchers said that HIV prevalence will remain "roughly constant" in the "immediate future" and average life expectancy will continue to drop over the next ten years, according to BBC News (BBC News, 10/21).
More Research Needed
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