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International News

HIV Survey in South Africa Suggests Plateau in Infections

June 11, 2002

The number of HIV infections in South Africa appears to have leveled off at about one-quarter of the adult population, according to the results of an annual survey announced on Monday by the Health Ministry. The reasons for the leveling off were not clear, epidemiologists warned, and it is still too soon to say whether the epidemic would decline or had reached what would be a devastatingly high saturation point. Some experts cautioned that the rate of infection could still be quickening. But the health minister, Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, told reporters in the capital, Pretoria, that for now, "We can confidently say that the prevalence rate is stabilized."

Using the results of the survey, epidemiologists estimate that 4.74 million people, of a population of 44 million, are now infected -- still the highest number of adults in any country in the world. The survey measures the number of infections year to year among pregnant women, a population considered to provide the most reliable cross-section of social and income groups and one most likely to pass through the health care system. It found an apparent increase in HIV infection among women in their 30s. That more than offset a decrease in infections among younger women, the Health Ministry said. Among pregnant women under 20, the prevalence rate declined for the third straight year, to 15.4 percent from 16.1 percent, and among women 20 to 24, the prevalence rate fell to 28.4 percent from 29.1 percent. For women ages 30 to 34, prevalence rose to 25.6 percent from 23.3 percent, and among women ages 35 to 39, it rose to 19.3 percent from 15.8 percent. Overall, the survey found that 24.8 percent of pregnant women carried HIV, up from 24.5 percent, Tshabalala-Msimang said.

Back to other CDC news for June 11, 2002

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Adapted from:
New York Times
06.11.02; Henri E. Cauvin

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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