/ 11 September 2008

Gauteng’s antenatal HIV-rate drops

HIV prevalence rates among pregnant women dropped 2,3% in Gauteng between 2004 and 2006, a provincial public-health profile report has found.

”One of the provincial government’s successes was the expansion of HIV services to 59 000 people on antiretrovirals, said Gauteng health minister Brian Hlongwa.

”This target almost doubled to 110 000 people in 2007,” he said. The decrease was based on the national health department’s 2006 antenatal survey, which suggested the pandemic was about to show a downward trend in the general population.

”We can say, with great caution, that we seem to be making progress in the war against HIV and Aids,” said Hlongwa.

Of the patients who had started antiretroviral treatment in April 2004, 62% were still on the treatment by September 2007 while the other 38% had either died or could not be traced.

The leading cause of death in the province was tuberculosis (TB) which accounted for 9,8% of total deaths.

Pneumonia accounted for 8,1%, other forms of heart disease for 4,4%, cerebrovascular diseases 3,9% and intestinal infectious diseases 3,5%.

Using Statistics South African information, the survey observed that the number of deaths in the province had steadily increased between 2003 and 2005.

This was partly due to population growth, a larger elderly population and improvements in death records.

However, it was also likely to be the result of HIV-related mortality, the report found.

”Gauteng had a ‘quadruple burden of disease’ with individuals affected by communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, injuries, and HIV and Aids.

”[The] large number of deaths in the 15- to 49-year age group was indicative of the impact of HIV and Aids.”

The report suggested that the number of actual Aids deaths was likely to be higher than official estimates of about 50% of all deaths.

HIV was not a notifiable disease and it was likely that many Aids deaths were not recorded as such.

The report indicated that many deaths put down other causes, such as TB, could be Aids-related. – Sapa