Drawing on a number of studies involving local residents, Colvin estimated that there were almost 530 000 people living with HIV in eThekwini municipality. Almost 18 percent of these were young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Over four out of every ten pregnant women (41 percent) were HIV positive by 2009. By 2007, almost one-third of eThekwini’€™s agricultural workers (31 percent) had HIV, and over one-fifth of manufacturing workers had HIV, Colvin reported yesterday to the SA AIDS Conference being held in Durban.

Of the metro’€™s 3.2 million residents, some 730 000 were estimated to live in informal settlements which were ‘€œhighly vulnerable environments for HIV infection’€.

Despite the high HIV rate, there was ‘€œno co-ordinated city level response to HIV/AIDS’€, said Colvin.

‘€œAt a municipal level, the local AIDS council is non-functional so there is no co-ordination between government and civil society,’€ he said. Meanwhile eThekwini’€™s Integrated Development Plan did not include HIV/AIDS in any significant way.

Colvin said much of the data on HIV in the city was incomplete, for example there was no data on the rate of new infections. There was also no information on high risk groups, such as sex workers and men who have sex with men.

Colvin also found that there were a number of non-governmental AIDS organisations in the municipality but that there was ‘€œa lack of co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation’€.

‘€œThe city needs to conduct an epidemiological study to determine the trends in HIV prevalence and incidence as a baseline,’€ recommended Colvin.

In addition, it needed to develop a response to the epidemic that was based on the National Strategic Plan.