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National Survey Looks At HIV/AIDS In South Africa

According to the results of a national survey conducted in 2008 and released Tuesday, HIV prevalence among South Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 dropped from “a high of 10.3 percent in 2005 to 8.7 percent last year, with the decreases most marked among teenagers,” AFP/Google.com reports (AFP/Google.com, 6/9). The Telegraph writes, “HIV prevalence in children between 2 and 14 fell from 5.6 per cent in 2002 to 2.5 per cent last year, mainly thanks to the spread of drugs to prevent women passing on the virus to their children” (Telegraph, 6/10).

The study also revealed that while youth are continuing to have multiple sex partners, “they are increasingly heeding advice to use a condom,” according to the AP/Google.com (Nullis, AP/Google.com, 6/9). Rates of condom use among males between the ages of 15 and 24 rose from 57 percent in 2002 to 87 percent in 2008, and from 46 to 73 percent among females, according to Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Chief Executive Officer Olive Shisana, SAPA/The Times reports (SAPA/The Times, 6/9). “The survey showed that messages that young people should abstain, delay their first sexual encounter and have only one partner, were falling largely on deaf ears,” the AP/Google.com writes (AP/Google.com, 6/9).

“The good news is that the change in HIV prevalence in children is most likely attributable to the successful implementation of several HIV-prevention interventions,” Shisana said (BBC, 6/9). “There is clearly light at the end of the tunnel,” said South Africa’s Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, adding, “I am hoping that in the next few years the results will be much more encouraging than this” (Telegraph, 6/10).

South Africa’s overall HIV epidemic has stabilized at a prevalence rate of 10.9 percent for people aged two years and older (BBC, 6/9). IRIN reports, “The findings, based on interviews with about 21,000 individuals, 15,000 of whom agreed to anonymous HIV tests, give a fairly detailed picture of South Africa’s mixed success in fighting the largest HIV epidemic in the world” (IRIN, 6/9).  AFP/Google.com writes that South Africa’s “situation remains grim” with 5.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS (AFP/Google.com, 6/9). According to VOA News, one in three women living in South Africa between the ages of 25 and 29 are HIV positive (VOA News, 6/9).

According to SAPA/The Times, the survey looked at the reach of some HIV/AIDS programs in the country and found that the government program Khomanani “had the lowest reach compared to other programmes such as Soul City and loveLife” (SAPA/The Times, 6/9).

The research was conduced by HSRC, Medical Research Council of South Africa, Centre for AIDS Development, Research and Evaluation, and National Institute for Communicable Diseases and funded by PEPFAR (HSRC press release, 6/9).