'Most populous city Johannesburg has largest number of people living with HIV'

According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 5.3 million South Africans under the age of 50 are HIV-positive, and 500 000 of them live in Johannesburg.

Read: SA to send delegation to US over decision to slash HIV/AIDS funding

Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa director professor Salim Abdool Karim speaks to Bongani Bingwa about the survey.

When we look at the HIV epidemic, we have a pretty good understanding of what the situation is in South Africa. Overall, we estimate that there are about 7 million people living with HIV.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director - Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa

So this study, is a desk exercise. They took existing data, and they plotted it, and showed a map of where the infections are, and their estimate is based on the adults and not on the total epidemic.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director - Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa

We know that there is about 7 million, and we see the distribution of these infections. We also know that because Johannesburg is the most populous city, it has the largest number of people living with HIV of any city in South Africa.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director - Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa

He says, however, if we look at the overall prevalence and the highest prevalence of people living with HIV in South Africa is in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

You can say that 1 in 5 South Africans adults have HIV, and that is based on estimates that come from pregnant women and surveys.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director - Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa

Karim says if one looks at the recent information on the HIV epidemic in South Africa, it has shown that the number of people living with HIV has steadily been increasing.

Which is what we expect because we are putting patients on treatment. The longer we put patients on treatment, they don't die and so that the overall number of people living with HIV will go up.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director - Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa

He adds that research needs to look at the number of new infections as that is the number they want to see down.

If we look at South Africa, the number of new infections has been more or less steady and has been showing a gradual decline over the last 15 years or so.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director - Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa

The most fundamental, is that the highest rates of new infections are occurring in young women, notes Karim.

In young women, all of the programmes that we have in place do not have the same impact we would like to see. If we look at the ABC, abstinence, be faithful, condoms and circumcision, none of those things helps women in protecting themselves from getting HIV.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director - Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa

Listen below to the full interview:


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