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Minister to put HIV data online

Resource type: News

Business Day (South Africa) |

by Tamar Kahn CAPE TOWN – Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang yesterday promised to crack the whip and get her officials to post the latest antenatal HIV survey online. The annual survey is one of the government’s most important gauges of how effective its HIV prevention strategies are, and is usually released by mid-year. SA has one of the world’s worst HIV/AIDS epidemics, with 5,7-million people living with the disease, according to the United Nations (UN). The minister quoted from last year’s survey during her budget speech to Parliament in June, saying the overall HIV prevalence among pregnant women using government clinics had fallen, and that it had dropped from 13,7% to 12,9% among 15- to 19-year-olds between 2006 and last year. The prevalence also fell among women aged between 25 and 29, from 38,7% to 37,9%. Since the survey has yet to be made public, observers are in the dark as to how much of it really is good news and whether its conclusions are borne out by the data. Yesterday the minister said overall HIV prevalence among pregnant women had dropped one percentage point to 29%. Given that these (downward) trends are over a two-year period we think our prevention strategies are beginning to make a difference to behaviour, she said. Last month the UN said SA’s overall HIV/AIDS epidemic appeared to have stabilised, but there was no evidence of any downward trends. Tshabalala-Msimang also said the cabinet had instructed the health department to finalise the estimated cost of implementing a national health insurance system.

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