'Suspicious' Aids figures not validated

The Development Bank of SA (DBSA)‘s Aids statistics—published on May 4 in the Sunday Independent—had not yet been validated, the bank said on Tuesday.

“The DBSA would like to clarify that the statistics referred to were working data that have not yet been validated as per normal practice or put through stakeholder consultations,” the DBSA said in a statement.

This explained why the data had not been published or reported by the bank, as was normally done when it released its various research results.

The DBSA said that the information was published “without the bank’s knowledge or its explicit and formal authority”.

The Sunday Independent reported that according to a DBSA study, more than 7,6-million South Africans were HIV-positive compared to the Department of Health’s figure, which stood at 2,2-million.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said the report was “extremely suspicious”.

Spokesperson Nathan Geffen said the statistics appeared to have been plagiarised from an out-of-date source.

“We examined the statistics sent by the DBSA and they are extremely suspicious and couldn’t be characterised as having been collected at grassroots level,” he said.

The Aids Law Project said the DBSA should be cautious about releasing sensitive information into the public domain.

TAC executive director Mark Heyward said it was important that the public had faith in the HIV information it received.

“If the organisation underestimates or overestimates the prevalence of HIV/Aids, people will question the legitimacy and this will be problematic, ” Heyward said.

Heyward said the most reliable HIV/Aids statistical information came from the Department of Health as well as Statistics South Africa. - Sapa

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