December 19, 2007
The latest survey of the Western Cape's 25 health districts shows that while overall HIV prevalence fell slightly last year, an uptick was detected in several areas. In 2006, prevalence ranged from 3.9 percent in the Little Karoo to 32.7 percent in Khayelitsha.
The findings are based on HIV test results from pregnant women attending public clinics, said Pierre Uys of the provincial health department. In line with South Africa's national antenatal survey of HIV and syphilis prevalence, Western Cape reported a small drop in HIV between 2005 and last year, from 15.7 percent to 15.1 percent. The national rate was nearly double that of Western Cape, with HIV prevalence decreasing slightly from 30.2 percent to 29.1 percent. For women under age 24 in the province, HIV prevalence fell from 12.8 percent to 11.9 percent.
Western Cape women ages 25-29 posted the largest increase over the past decade, with HIV prevalence among this group rising from 7.9 percent in 1997 to 21.1 percent last year.
Several health districts recorded an increase in HIV. In Helderberg, prevalence increased from 12.8 percent in 2005 to 17.3 percent last year. Similarly, Oostenberg's rate increased over the past three years, from 14.8 percent in 2004 to 18.8 percent last year.
"High-prevalence areas require additional energy and resources," said Uys. "We really want programs that address local issues. For example, in Khayelitsha we now have programs targeting older men. We have already targeted schools, and we want to get peer-educator [HIV] programs into all of them."
In addition, the health department has created programs aimed at sex workers and truckers, said Uys.