Wednesday, November 21, 2007

HIV/AIDS: Better then expected..but not for South Africa

According to a new UN report released today:
33.2 million people are estimated to live with HIV in 2007
2.5 million people are estimated to be infected with HIV in 2007
2.1 million people are estimated to have died from HIV in 2007

There is some good news. Worldwide, AIDS has long been overestimated, both in size and course. According to the UN report:

The estimated number of persons living with HIV worldwide in 2007 was 33.2 million [30.6-36.1 million], a reduction of 16% compared with the estimate published in 2006 (39.5 million [34.7-47.1 million]). (UNAIDS/WHO, 2006) The single biggest reason for this reduction was the intensive exercise to assess India’s HIV epidemic, which resulted in a major revision of that country’s estimates. Important revisions of estimates elsewhere, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, also contributed. Of the total difference in the estimates published in 2006 and 2007, 70% are due to changes in six countries: Angola, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. In both Kenya and Zimbabwe, there is increasing evidence that a proportion of the declines is due to a reduction of the number of new infections which is in part due to a reduction in risky behaviours.

There is also some bad news. According to the report:

There was no evidence of a decrease in HIV infection levels among young people in
Mozambique, South Africa or in Zambia.

According to the UN, South Africa has now the dubious honour of being the country with the largest number of HIV infections in the world:

South Africa is the country with the largest number of HIV infections in the world. HIV
prevalence data collected from the latest round of antenatal clinic surveillance suggest that HIV infection levels might be levelling off, with prevalence among pregnant women at 30% in 2005 and 29% in 2006 (Department of Health South Africa, 2007). In addition, the decrease in HIV prevalence among young pregnant women (15-24 years) suggests a possible decline in the annual number of new infections. The epidemic varies considerably between provinces, from 15% in the Western Cape to 39% in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
(Department of Health South Africa, 2007).

UNAIDS/WHO (2006). AIDS epidemic update: December 2006. UNAIDS, Geneva 2006. UNAIDS/06.29E. ISBN 92 9 173542 6.

Department of Health South Africa (2007). National HIV and syphilis antenatal prevalence survey, South Africa 2006. Pretoria.

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