9. Mr B L Mashile (ANC- Mpumalanga) to ask the Deputy President:
1. What is the (a) latest statistics on HIV and Aids and (b) trend on HIV and Aids infection;
2. whether South Africa is winning the battle against HIV and Aids; if not, what corrective or enhancement measures are being taken by the government in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?
Honourable Mashile, according to Statistics South Africa, it is estimated that the number of people living with HIV in 2011, is 5.38 million. This translates into HIV prevalence of 10.6% for the overall population and 16.6% for the 15 to 29 year age group. Among pregnant women HIV prevalence has gradually levelled off to just below 30%.
In terms of HIV incidence, which is the rate of new infections, estimates suggest annual incidence of 2.0 to 2.4% in the first half of the decade starting in 2000, and about 1.2 to 1.7% in the second half of the last decade.
The rate of new infections continues to outpace our prevention efforts, and thus prevention programmes will be prioritised in the new National Strategic Plan which is being developed for 2012 to 2016.
In reflecting on the question of whether South Africa is winning the battle against HIV and AIDS, it is instructive to note that South Africa has invested a large amount of resources into its HIV response. There are a number of interventions for prevention, treatment, care and support as well as programmes to mitigate the impact of HIV among those infected as well as their families and communities.
In this regard, a number of successful programmes have begun to show impact.
The programme for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV has yielded remarkable results. Recent health statistics show that transmission rates have declined from 10% to 3.5% over the last three years with KwaZulu-Natal reporting further improvements down to 2%.
South Africa has the largest antiretroviral treatment programme with over 1.3 million people currently receiving treatment. In addition, on 12 August, government announced a new policy that people who are infected with HIV and have a CD4 cell count of 350 and less will be eligible for antiretroviral treatment. This means that more people will have access to treatment before they become too ill.
An important issue to note is that the number of deaths due to HIV-related causes is beginning to show a decline due to the intensification of antiretroviral treatment.
Research conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council(HSRC) also shows that young people are engaging in safer sex practices by using condoms and this has led to a slight decrease in new infections among young people.
Over the last 15 months South Africa embarked on the world’s largest HIV counselling and testing campaign which resulted in more than 14 million people being tested, of which two million people were found to be HIV positive.
Honourable Member, given the fact that South Africa has a huge challenge and burden of disease due to HIV, the impact of current interventions will bear fruit over a period of time due to the nature of the infection. However, it is critical to emphasise that prevention is the key pillar of our response and all sectors of society must collaborate and unite in efforts to reduce new infections.
I thank you.