39% decline in the number of new HIV infections in SA, researchers say

The IRR says that despite this significant progress intensified campaigns are still needed to sustain the gains.

Between 2009 and 2016, the number of new HIV infections declined by 39% across the country, which can be attributed to improved HIV and Aids awareness campaigns and improved condom distribution in the past 20 years.

This is according to the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR), which added that despite this significant progress, intensified campaigns are still needed to sustain the gains.

Research conducted by IRR reveals that the 39% decline in the number of new HIV infections between this period came from 437 705 to 266 931.

In a statement, IRR analyst Tawanda Makombo said the decline – which took place under former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure – is due to improved HIV/Aids awareness and campaigning strategies in schools, hospitals and communities.

The institute further states that the improved condom distribution in universities has resulted in students demanding flavoured varieties.

Based on the latest available figures, the IRR also noted that:

  • KZN, which had the highest rate of new infections in 2009 (121 308), achieved a drastic reduction of almost 50% to 62 117 new infections in 2016;
  • While Gauteng’s rate of new infections fell by 27.6% – from 102 074 in 2009 to 73 951 in 2016 – the province has the highest number of new infections of all nine provinces;
  • The Northern Cape showed the biggest improvement between 2009 and 2016, with a 57.6% drop in new HIV infections from 5 557 to 2 356.

However, Makombo said there was room for improvement, urging the department of health to intensify awareness, and calling on civil society to be more involved in education and support programmes in the fight against HIV and Aids.

Speaking to the SABC, Makombo said condom distribution among males aged 15 years and above was at 4.4% in the year 2000, while the number currently sits at 44.4%.

He added that with Gauteng registering the highest number of new infections, this can probably be attributed to high levels of unemployment, which might be leading some people into prostitution to make a living.


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