Study: AIDS Blamed for Big Jump in South Africa Deaths
March 3, 2004
An increase of almost 50 percent in South Africa's adult death rate over the past six years is likely due primarily to AIDS, researchers from South Africa's independent Medical Research Council (MRC) announced today.
Last month, South African President Thabo Mbeki angered AIDS activists when he said South Africa had few reliable statistics on AIDS deaths and could not assess the actual extent of the epidemic. The government also underreports AIDS deaths, claim activists, who note that many people die of HIV-related causes such as TB or other opportunistic infections.
MRC studied official death statistics from 1998-2003 and found the nation's overall death toll had jumped during those years. "There is a distinct rise in deaths in the younger, sexually active age groups," said Ria Laubscher, a statistician at MRC. "It is our view that this is mainly due to AIDS," Laubscher said.
The study has been submitted to the South African Medical Journal for publication. It follows a previous MRC study finding 40 percent of deaths among those ages 15-49 were due to AIDS.
After adjusting for population growth and improved reporting, which could account for some of the increase, the new study concluded that overall registered deaths among those ages 15-49 had leapt by 44 percent. Deaths among women ages 20-49 -- a high HIV-risk group -- soared by 168 percent, the study said.
Laubscher said that death rates could be expected to rise further in coming years. "At some point there will be a plateau, but we haven't reached it yet," she said.
03.03.04; Andrew Quinn
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.