Nearly One-Fourth of South African Soldiers Contract HIV/AIDS
August 18, 2004
HIV/AIDS prevalence among the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) is estimated at 23 percent based on tests conducted on personnel being assessed for deployment on foreign peacekeeping missions, Pieter Oelofse, SANDF's health services director, said Tuesday. The SANDF figures are even higher than South Africa's national HIV prevalence rate, which is estimated by Statistics South Africa (SSA) to be 15.2 percent in 2004. SSA, the country's statistical agency, estimates HIV/AIDS has killed 1.7 million of the total 45 million people in South Africa.
On Tuesday, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi warned Parliament that HIV/AIDS affects all South Africans. "Only the most nave can continue to believe that they are not going to be directly or indirectly affected by HIV/AIDS because of its being allegedly limited to the poorer reaches of our nation, or those with particular sexual orientations," said Buthelezi, who has been widely praised for announcing publicly that two of his children died of AIDS-related illnesses. Buthelezi blamed the government for failing to make HIV/AIDS an absolute priority that should receive an "overwhelming allocation of public spending."
The Democratic Alliance party called on the government to develop national campaigns to curb widespread myths about HIV/AIDS. That call came after a two-year old was allegedly axed to death by his mother on Sunday because she thought he was infected with HIV and was therefore possessed by the devil. According to the local newspaper the Citizen, 4.2 percent of South Africans over age 15 believe HIV/AIDS is caused by witchcraft and another 14.1 percent said they were uncertain as to whether or not this was true.
Xinhua News Agency
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.