According to the latest survey the national HIV prevalence among pregnant women stands at 29,1%, compared to 30,2% in 2005.

Health minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang announced the results during her budget speech in Parliament yesterday (Wed). The minister claimed the decline was mainly as a result of ‘€œour continued focus on prevention as the mainstay of our response to combat HIV and lead to an HIV free society’€.

A total of 33 033 women from 1 415 health facilities participated in the survey ‘€“ this is double the number of 2005.

The report said the HIV prevalence rates had been stable for several years, evidence of a decline.

According to the survey there were statistically significant decreases in three provinces ‘€“ Mpumalanga, NorthWest and Gauteng. The Free State was the only province which remained stable, but showed a tendency towards an increase.

In KwaZulu-Natal around four out of 10 pregnant women seeking care in the public sector are estimated to be HIV positive.

HIV prevalence in the under twenties was at 13,7% in comparison to 15,9% in 2005. The health department said this reduction indicated a decline in new infections in the population.

Similarly HIV prevalence in the 20 to 24 year age group was at 28%, almost two percent lower than 2005.

The department expressed some concern over the slight increase in the older age groups, but said the increases were not statistically significant.

After causing a fracas at the Durban AIDS conference by withdrawing at the last minute, Tshabalala-Msimang wished the conference successful deliberations, discussions and outcomes.

Click here for the survey