HIV levels among pregnant women remain high Living with AIDS # 408

Written by Health-e News

The 2008 antenatal clinic survey, which measures the prevalence levels of HIV amongst pregnant women attending public health care facilities, shows that HIV in this group is not declining.

A prevalence level of 29. 3% amongst pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 49 is not a significant reduction from that of 29.4% recorded in the previous survey. Announcing the results of the 19th antenatal clinic survey in Pretoria this week, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, chose not to put a spin on the figures.

‘€œI do not want to fall in the trap of making good sounding statements about whether the signs represent good or bad, a breakthrough or stagnation, etc’€, Motsoaledi said.    

‘€œWhat cannot be contested is that the burden of HIV and AIDS is now weighing heavily on the shoulders of our country’€, he continued.

About 34 000 pregnant women participated in the survey in health facilities across the country. Although the survey was conducted among 15 ‘€“ 49 year olds, the sample size of women over 40 was small and the results don’€™t reflect much in that age group. Extremely high prevalence levels were found in the 30 ‘€“ 34 year age group.

‘€œThe HIV prevalence trends in the less than 20-year age group showed a slight increase in 2008 ‘€“ 14. 1% as compared to 13. 1%, in 2007. There are high prevalence estimates in the 25 ‘€“ 29 year age group and the 30 ‘€“ 34 year age group. The highest prevalence estimates in the 30 ‘€“ 34 year age group was starting off at 37% in 2006, going up to 40. 4% in 2008’€, said Dr Kammy Chetty, Deputy Director-General for the Health Department.

Responding to the figures, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said that ‘€œthe prevalence among women aged 25 years and above has stabilized at high and very unacceptable levels. The age group of 15 ‘€“ 24 years is important as it is used to estimate the new infections’€.

Provincially, KwaZulu-Natal has the highest prevalence, although there hasn’€™t been a significant increase. Mpumalanga is the only province that has shown a steady increase from a prevalence of 32. 1% in 2006 to 35. 5% in 2008. The lowest levels are in the Western and Northern Cape.  

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