6 June 2008
The prevalence of the human immune deficiency virus (HIV) among pregnant women aged between 15 and 19 in South Africa has continued to decrease over the past two years, said Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.
Presenting her department’s Budget Vote in Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, Tshabalala-Msimang said the preliminary findings of the latest survey of HIV prevalence among pregnant women attending public antenatal clinics demonstrate a downward trend in prevalence.
“The 2007 survey shows that HIV prevalence has decreased from an estimated 29.2% in 2006 to 28% in 2007,” she said. “HIV prevalence in the 15 to 19 age group dropped from 13.7% in 2006 to 12.9% in 2007, while a decrease was observed in the 25 to 29 year age group from 38.7% in 2006 to 37.9% in 2007.”
The HIV prevalence rate in the 20 to 24 age group stabilised between 2006 and 2007.
“Taken together, these figures do indeed suggest that we have a trend of decreasing prevalence overall and in the younger age cohort and this trend is in line with the predictions of the United Nations AIDS agency Spectrum model,” said Tshabalala-Msimang.
She said the encouraging trends were due to intensive prevention campaigns that were beginning to make a difference in reducing HIV infections.
A full report detailing findings of the survey on the prevalence of HIV and syphilis in the country will be released within the next few weeks.
Tshabalala-Msimang also announced progress in providing treatment to those living with HIV/Aids, with the department initiating more than 450 000 patients on antiretroviral treatment in more than 310 accredited sites across all nine provinces by the end of February this year.
She said the high number, which made the programme the largest of its kind in the world, contradicted those who claimed the government was not concerned about treatment.