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International News

South Africa Slips Back as AIDS Takes Hold

July 11, 2003

South Africa is slipping back into underdevelopment, largely due to HIV/AIDS, according to the UN Development Program's human development report, released July 8. The report, which uses indicators such as life expectancy, educational attainment and income, shows South Africa falling to 111th place out of 175 countries ranked worldwide, from 107th the previous year. It has dropped 28 places since 1990, the UN said, "primarily because more people were dying younger from AIDS-related illnesses."

"South Africa has slipped mainly because of lower life expectancy due to AIDS, and the drop in [primary education] enrollment rates, again due to HIV/AIDS," said John Ohiorhenuan, UNDP resident representative in South Africa. "A critical look is needed at the effectiveness of some of the government’s policies."

South Africa insists its AIDS strategy, which focuses on awareness, prevention, and nutrition rather than treatment, is successful. Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has said that antiretrovirals are toxic, not effective, difficult to administer and too expensive.

The report, completed in April, concludes that in spite of some infrastructure problems, a nationwide antiretroviral therapy (ART) program is feasible, affordable, and necessary. The report says ART is the cheapest way to fight the pandemic, and it estimates that even a 50 percent rollout would prevent 700,000 deaths by 2008.

The health ministry has not yet presented the report to the cabinet. Critics accuse Tshabalala-Msimang of using delaying tactics while some 600 South Africans die each day of AIDS-related illnesses.

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Market Research at the University of South Africa confirmed that 40 percent of adult deaths in 2000 and 2001 were AIDS-related. The report predicted that by 2015, the country’s population of 44.8 million would reach 49 million -- 12 million lower than without AIDS.

Back to other CDC news for July 11, 2003

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Adapted from:
Financial Times (United Kingdom)
07.09.2003; Nicol Degli Innocenti, John Reed

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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
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