Antenatal HIV prevalence at 'unacceptable' 29%

HIV prevalence among pregnant women has stabilised at about 29%, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Monday.

“The prevalence among women aged 25 and above has stabilised at high and unacceptable levels,” Motsoaledi said in Pretoria, releasing the 2008 results of a survey of antenatal HIV.

He said the report was a useful tool to observe trends and increase commitment to the implementation of government policies, as well as to provide feedback to healthcare workers.

In 2007, antenatal HIV prevalence was at 29,4% and in 2008 was 29,3%.

About 33 927 women aged between 15 and 49 who attended antenatal clinic in public health sectors participated in the survey.

HIV prevalence in the 15-to-24 year age group declined 0,4% from 22,1% in 2007 to 21,7% in 2008.

The highest prevalence was in the 30 to 34 age group, at 39,6% in 2007 and 40,4% in 2008.

KwaZulu-Natal has the highest prevalence followed by Mpumalanga, Free State and North West.

Gauteng, Limpopo and Eastern Cape have prevalence of between 20% and 30% while the Northern Cape and Western Cape have the lowest prevalence of below 20%.

Motsoaledi said there was a need to work with academics and researchers to find new ways to respond to the problem.

“What cannot be contested is that the burden of HIV and Aids is now weighing heavily on the shoulder of our country,” he said.

He said the findings of the report confirmed earlier reports of the general population survey done by the Human Science Research Council and Medical Research Council that the battle was being lost in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

“We seem to be losing the battle but not yet the war,” he said.

The report stated there was a need to report HIV prevalence distribution by geographic area in rural, semi rural and urban areas as this would assist in interventions.

Motsoaledi said he was optimistic that the next survey would be “more encouraging”. - Sapa

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