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4,000 South African Teachers Died of AIDS-Related Illnesses in 2004; 12.7% of Teacher Workforce HIV-Positive, Survey Says

April 4, 2005

More than 4,000 South African teachers died of HIV/AIDS-related complications in 2004, and 12.7% of the teacher workforce in South Africa -- about 45,000 people -- are HIV-positive, according to a survey released on Thursday by the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa's Star reports. The survey -- which was commissioned by the Education Labour Relations Council and is titled "Study of Demand and Supply of Educators in South African Public Schools" -- also found that about 80% of teachers who died of HIV/AIDS-related complications were younger than 45 and about 33.6% were between the ages of 25 and 34 (Khangale, Star, 4/1). Dr. Olive Shisana, head of research at HSRC, and colleagues conducted the survey among the teachers at 1,700 schools throughout South Africa over an 18-month period, Xinhua News Agency reports. About 83% of the teachers agreed to undergo HIV testing, according to Shisana. The researchers found that HIV/AIDS-related illnesses cause low morale and high rates of absenteeism among teachers, and about 10,000 of the 45,000 HIV-positive teachers needed antiretroviral drugs. The number of HIV-positive teachers was highest in the 25-34 age group, the survey showed (Xinhua News Agency, 4/1). The study also found that blacks are more likely than whites to be HIV-positive, and teachers ages 55 and older had the lowest HIV prevalence rate (, 3/31). "If South Africa cannot curtail the levels of infection and progression of HIV/AIDS among its teachers, the consequences will be bequeathed not just on the present generation of learners, but also on future learners, adding immeasurably and unnecessarily to poverty and social stagnation in the following decades," ELRC General-Secretary Dhaya Govender said (HSRC release, 3/31).

Tanzanian Teachers
An average of 2,880 Tanzanian teachers die of HIV/AIDS-related complications annually, mainly because of a deficiency of condoms and antiretroviral drugs, Tanzania's Education Minister Joseph Mungai said on Thursday, Reuters reports. Most teachers live in rural areas where condoms and medication are difficult to access, according to Reuters. Mungai said he has provided to the country's Commission for AIDS proposals concerning the distribution of condoms to remote villages and islands and there are plans to provide antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive teachers. "I have appealed for special measures which can lead to the supply of condoms as well as to the supply of life-sustaining drugs to the affected teachers, so that their lives can be elongated and they can continue to teach," he said. About 12% to 15% of the adult population in Tanzania is HIV-positive, and the Ministry of Health has said it hopes to increase the number of HIV/AIDS patients receiving antiretroviral medication to more than 40,000 by the end of 2005, according to Reuters (Nyambura, Reuters, 3/31).

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