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International News

AIDS Rising Among South Africa's Rich, Best-Educated

February 5, 2007

HIV/AIDS in South Africa has long been viewed as a disease of the rural poor who lack access to information, treatment, and basic health services. However, in what one researcher warns could represent a "new wave" of the epidemic, a new study says HIV infections are increasing rapidly among South Africa's professionals and full-time workers.

The survey, designed to reflect the country's racial and economic demographics, polled some 3,500 South Africans between 2002 and 2005. It was conducted by the Markinor polling firm and the University of South Africa (UNISA).

Confirming what previous research has shown, the study identified people under age 30 as being at greatest risk for HIV. But it also found alarming increases among rich and better-educated South Africans. "The high-risk group is growing, it is getting older and it is getting richer," said Carel van Aardt, director of UNISA's Bureau of Market Research. "This could represent a whole new wave of the epidemic."

According to the study, estimated HIV prevalence among professionals jumped 34 percent, from 6.2 percent in 2002 to 8.3 percent in 2004.

Full-time employees, who account for only around half of South Africa's working population, saw their estimated HIV prevalence increase 36 percent, from 14.4 percent in 2002 to 19.2 percent in 2005. Though unemployed persons had a larger percentage jump in HIV prevalence, they had lower actual prevalence rates -- an estimated 18.4 percent were infected in 2005, compared with 11 percent in 2002.

Overall, the richest third of the country's population continued to have a lower estimated HIV prevalence than the poorest third, at 8.5 percent compared to 23.4 percent. But the study found new infections were increasing most rapidly among the rich, rising 39 percent between 2002-2005 against just 14 percent for the poor.

Back to other news for February 5, 2007

Adapted from:
01.30.07; Andrew Quinn

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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