Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SOUTH AFRICA: A mixed bag of new HIV figures

via PlusNews

Young men have made a decision that they're going to run around, but that they're going to use a condom.

The percentage of people living with HIV in South Africa has barely changed in the last six years, but new data released on Tuesday revealed that between 2002 and 2008 there were many changes in HIV knowledge, risk behaviour and testing habits.

The third national HIV prevalence, incidence and communication survey, conducted in 2008 by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), in conjunction with the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Centre for AIDS Development, Research and Evaluation (CADRE), has given researchers the first real opportunity to study trends in HIV prevalence and risk behaviour. Previous surveys were conducted in 2002 and 2005.

The findings, based on interviews with about 21,000 individuals, 15,000 of whom agreed to anonymous HIV tests, give a fairly detailed picture of South Africa's mixed success in fighting the largest HIV epidemic in the world.

Prevalence appears to have stabilized at about 11 percent, and infection rates among children and teenagers have decreased, but have increased slightly in adults over the age of 25.

Olive Shisana, CEO of the HSRC and one of the survey's principal investigators, noted that African women aged 20 to 34, remained the group most at risk with a stubbornly high HIV prevalence of nearly 33 percent; men aged between 25 and 49, with an infection rate of 24 percent, have the second highest risk profile.

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