- The increase in the number of infections by HIV is especially prevalent among young girls between the ages of 10 to 14 years.
- According to South African health authorities, the country currently has the largest antiretroviral treatment program in the world.
- An estimated 90% of people who have the virus know their condition.
As the world marked World AIDS day on Tuesday, South Africa’s vice president, David Mabuza, sounded a warning about the continued increase in HIV infections in the country. Some 7.6 million people live with the virus, and in particular, HIV cases are on the rise among girls aged 10 to 14 years old.
The vice president lamented that the level of infection continues to increase, especially among the country’s young women, with many factors being behind the rise including the vice of gender-based violence.
David Mabuza, president of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), spoke in Soweto, outside Johannesburg, on the occasion of World AIDS Day. He highlighted the emotional story of a young South African teenager who said she was raped at the age of six.
A study by the National Council for AIDS in South Africa, released today, indicates that the increase in the number of infections by HIV is especially prevalent among young girls between the ages of 10 to 14 years, mostly targeted by men.
With 13.5% of the total population infected by the virus, South Africa continues to have the highest number of people infected with HIV in the world. South Africa accounts for a third of all new infections by HIV in Africa, according to the United Nations.
According to South African health authorities, the country currently has the largest antiretroviral treatment program in the world, with about 4.5 million South Africans on treatment. They noted that 90% of people who have the virus know their condition.
President of the Republic, Cyril Ramaphosa, declared on Monday that while South Africa has made significant strides in reducing the number of HIV- related deaths and new infections, “we still are far from reaching the goal we committed ourselves in 2016 of achieving a 75% reduction in HIV infections by 2020.”
“If we succeed in doing so,” he added, in his weekly newsletter, “we are likely to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.’’ Ramaphosa stressed that “the national treatment program has reduced the number of infections in the country by about 60%.”
The South African leader also said that since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, which has already infected around 800,000 people and caused more than 21,000 deaths in the country, confinement has made access to antiretroviral treatment and other services such as voluntary male medical circumcision difficult.
South African academic Edna Bosire of the Center for Excellence in Human Development at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, recently warned that South Africa “faces a quadruple burden of disease.” She highlighted HIV, tuberculosis (TB), non-communicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, and injuries due to the high rate of violence.
According to the South African researcher, in South Africa, there is an increasing number of people with HIV who are developing non-communicable diseases, especially among the poor in low-income urban socio-economic environments and in rural areas.