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International News

South Africa: HIV/AIDS Risk "Greatest for Young Women"

March 20, 2007

New estimates of HIV incidence among the South African population underscore the fact that women under age 30 are at much greater risk of becoming infected than their male counterparts. One of the study's authors, Professor Thomas Rehle, a researcher at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), said he hopes it will serve as an important benchmark to measure progress toward the government's plan to halve the rate of new HIV infections by 2011.

To calculate HIV incidence, Rehle and colleagues analyzed dried blood samples collected during HSRC's 2005 HIV/AIDS household survey. A technique called IgG-Capture BED enzyme bioassay was used to determine how recently people had become infected. Incidence calculations were based on a complex method approved by CDC.

For women ages 20-29, HIV incidence was 5.9 percent, six times that of men of the same age (0.9 percent). Women ages 15-24 comprised 90 percent of all HIV infections less than six months old. HIV incidence in the general population over age two was 1.4 percent, with 571,000 new infections estimated for 2005.

The researchers also found a 5.1 percent HIV incidence among poor people living in informal urban settlements, compared to 1.6 percent in rural formal housing, 1.4 percent in rural informal settlements, and 0.8 percent in urban formal settings. An unexpectedly high HIV incidence was found among widows (5.8 percent), as compared to single (3 percent), married (1.3 percent), and divorced (0.5 percent) women.

"These findings suggest that the current HIV prevention campaigns do not have the desired impact, particularly among young women," said Rehle.

The study, "National HIV Incidence Measures - New Insights into the South African Epidemic," was published in the South African Medical Journal (2007;97(3):194-199).

Back to other news for March 20, 2007

Adapted from:
Business Day (Johannesburg)
3.15.2007; Tamar Kahn

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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.
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