Nearly third of S Africa's pregnant women carry HIV: report

29th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

The number of pregnant women carrying the HIV virus in South Africa, which has the world's biggest AIDS population, has inched up to 30.2 percent from 29.4 percent last year, health officials said Tuesday.

While the number of HIV carriers among pregnant women aged between 16 and 24 have stabilised, there was a spike in the 24-39 age group, said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

"We're still far from winning the war, but we are getting somewhere," he said, releasing the annual National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence survey.

He said the increase was due to lack of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and counselling.

"We must accept the number of people on ARVs as we need to ... decrease infections," he said.

The latest UNAIDS report, released last week, estimates that South Africa has the world's largest HIV population of 5.6 million people.

Ramped-up investments in fighting the disease brought infections down by 22 percent between 2001 and 2009 and deaths by 21 percent between 2001 and last year, the report said.

South Africa has poured money into its AIDS campaigns, rolling out a massive testing drive and scaling up the world's largest AIDS treatment programme after years of refusing life-saving drugs.

© 2011 AFP

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