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International News

HIV/AIDS Is Top Killer of Pregnant Women in South Africa

March 14, 2003

HIV/AIDS has become the leading cause of death among pregnant women in South Africa, surpassing high blood pressure complications, a report released last Friday by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang disclosed.

The report, "Saving Mothers 1999-2001," was commissioned by the health ministry four years ago because of growing concern about rising maternal deaths. It states that close to 3,000 maternal deaths were recorded between 1999 and 2001. This puts the maternal mortality ratio at 150 per 100,000 live births.

Non-pregnancy related infections were the number one killer, accounting for 31.4 percent of maternal deaths during the period. AIDS-related infections made up 17 percent of the deaths. Professor Jack Moodley, who led the study, says this figure could be higher because HIV status was tested in only 36.4 percent of the 2,777 cases.

Tshabalala-Msimang said the government will extend its voluntary counseling and HIV-testing services to help infected pregnant women.

The report has resulted in a number of recommendations being made to the health department, including:

  • The provision of emergency transportation for pregnant women in rural areas, as the lack of transportation contributed to some of the deaths.
  • Making blood available in all hospitals where caesarean sections are performed.
  • Increasing staff and equipment in under resourced institutions.
  • Introducing more abortion clinics to try to stop fatal back-alley abortions.

Back to other CDC news for March 14, 2003

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Adapted from:
03.09.03; Sunday Times (Johannesburg)

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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.
See Also
More HIV Statistics on South Africa