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People living with HIV longer in South Africa

June 21, 2013

It has been widely reported that HIV prevalence in South Africa is on the increase, which can be partly attributed to the decline in condom usage, but sufferers are living longer with the disease, according to a recent study.

The 2012 National HIV Household Survey found prevalence has increased by almost two per cent from 2008 making HIV sufferers account for 12.3 percent of the general population.

Director of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) Professor Thomas Rehle spoke at the sixth SA Aids Conference in Durban that the research also indicated that the figure for men was much lower than the HIV statistics for women. The study showed that the prevalence of HIV in women aged 30 to 34 was at 36.7 per cent but the figure for men of the same age group was 23.1 per cent.

In fact, in almost all age group females had a much higher HIV prevalence than their male counterparts. Professor Rehle said there had been a "significant" drop in the infection among males aged between 15 and 24 which had declined from 10.3 per cent in 2008 to just 7.3 percent in 2012.

There are around 6.4 million people in South Africa with HIV but Professional Rehle said more than two million of them were undertaking antiretroviral treatment. Out of all the HIV sufferers receiving treatment across the nation, women accounted for 33.7 per cent and men measured 27.3 per cent.

The Professor said that the figures suggested it was harder for men to get treatment than women. Professor Leickness Simbayi of the HSRC said that condom usage had significantly declined in people aged under 24.

Professor Simbayi said that the number of people who were aware they had HIV was on the rise. He added: "We are on our way, but we are not quite there yet." 

Chief executive of the HSRC Dr Olive Shisana said they were looking to produce a full report to present the findings. She said the research highlighted the success of antiretroviral treatment.

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