HIV rate stable, but teen rates concerning

Written by Health-e News

South Africa continues to have high HIV infection rates among the 15 to 24 year old pregnant women and increasingly so among the 10 to 14 year olds, the latest Government antenatal survey has revealed.

Almost one out every three women attending public sector antenatal clinics in South Africa were likely to be HIV-Positive. In KwaZulu-Natal four out of every ten pregnant women were HIV positive in 2010, the annual survey found.

Although the 2010 survey shows an almost one percent (0,8%) increase in HIV prevalence it was considered to be statistically insignificant therefore translating into a stabilisation.

Health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi released the 2010 National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence Survey in South Africa yesterday (SUBS: TUES) announcing a 30,2 percent national HIV prevalence among antenatal women.

The prevalence was 29,4 percent in 2009, 29,3 percent in 2008 and 29,4 percent in 2007.

Using World Health Organisation modeling it was estimated that 5,575-million South Africans were living with HIV in 2010, almost one in three of the general population.

Of these 518 000 were estimated to be children under 15 years and almost three million were adults females over 15 years.

The WHO model also estimated that there were over 300 000 new HIV infections for adults over 15 years in 2010.

A big concern was the fact that the HIV trend among young people (15 to 24 years) was not showing a decline. The survey also found that some of the pregnant women were young adolescents who were HIV infected. Of the 121 10 to 14 year olds, 11 (almost 10%) were HIV-positive.

The report has called for a comprehensive strategy focusing on this age group.

The 2010 findings produced by a so-called tree model showed that the significant contributor to the high HIV prevalence was a small group of less than 8 000 pregnant and unmarried African women aged 27 years and over, where the HIV prevalence is a staggering 48,7%.

KwaZulu-Natal was found to be a full five percent higher than the next worst province, Mpumalanga (35.1%). The Free State (30.6%) and Gauteng (30.4%) vied for third-worst spot. They were followed very closely by the Eastern Cape (29.9%) and North West (29.6%). Western Cape was at 18,5%, Limpopo 21,9% and Northern Cape 18,4%.

UMgungundlovu and iLembe districts in KwaZulu-Natal recorded the highest HIV rate for pregnant women in the country (42.3 percent). Umkhanyakude, eThekwini and Ugu districts, all in KZN, also recorded prevalence rates of over 40 percent.

KwaZulu-Natal also has the highest number of teen pregnancies, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, the Central Karoo recorded the lowest rate in the country at 8.5 percent.

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