AIDS Leading Cause of Death Among South African Women
November 22, 2002
AIDS is the leading killer of women in South Africa and is claiming increasing numbers of lives every year, according to a government survey released Thursday. AIDS-related illnesses were responsible for 9.8 percent of female deaths in South Africa in 2001, up from 5.6 percent in 1997, the Statistics South Africa survey showed. The percentage of AIDS-related deaths among all South Africans rose to 8.7 percent in 2001 from 4.6 percent in 1997, the report said.
South African women are more at risk than men for contracting HIV because of biological vulnerability and their lack of control in sexual relationships. A combined 41 percent of all deaths from 1997-2001 were attributed to tuberculosis, flu and pneumonia -- diseases commonly associated with AIDS -- as well as AIDS itself, the report said.
The government report comes more than a year after the quasi-governmental Medical Research Council released a report saying AIDS would account for one-third of all deaths in South Africa in 2001 and nearly two-thirds by 2010 without radical changes in personal behavior and more government action to fight the disease. At the time, SSA called the study badly flawed, saying the study samples were not representative and assumptions about the probability of HIV transmission were not necessarily accurate.
The government had tried to delay the release of the MRC report to coincide with the SSA report, originally scheduled to be published last December. MRC epidemiologist Debbie Bradshaw said Thursday the difference between the reports was due to SSA's reliance on information written on death certificates, where AIDS deaths are routinely underreported. The government shared Bradshaw's view, saying AIDS fatalities were likely higher than SSA reported. Some of the 10 percent of deaths SSA blamed on ill-defined natural causes also were likely due to AIDS, Bradshaw said.
11.21.02; Ravi Nessman
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.