The preliminary findings of the latest survey of HIV prevalence among pregnant women attending public antenatal clinics demonstrated a downward trend, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said in parliament yesterday.
"The 2007 survey shows that HIV prevalence has decreased from an estimated 29,2percent in 2006 to 28,0percent in 2007.
"HIV prevalence in the 15-19 years age group dropped from 13,7percent in 2006 to 12,9percent last year; in addition, a decrease was observed in the 25-29 years age group from 38,7percent in 2006 to 37,9percent last year.
"The rate in the 20-24 years group was stable between 2006-2007," she said.
Tshabalala-Msimang said that taken together, these figures suggested a trend of decreasing HIV prevalence overall.
Tshabalala-Msimang also rejected suggestions that the controversial National Health Amendment Bill would destroy the private health sector.
"Over the past years, the private health sector has been unable to increase access and also appears to be unable to contain cost escalations," she told the national assembly during debate on her budget vote.
At an indaba in September, representatives of the private health sector agreed there was a need for government involvement and regulation in resolving these challenges, she said.
The bill provided for the appointment of a facilitator to work with funders and providers to seek agreement on tariffs for health care services provided by the private health sector.
"The intention of this bill is to secure the sustainability of the private health sector in our country and not to destroy it as has been suggested in some quarters," the minister said.
DA spokesman Mike Waters said that Tshabalala-Msimang "seems obsessed with introducing more and more legislation whose only aim is to destroy those parts of the system that do work, while laws that could help our health service to work better gather dust".
The Health Act of 2003 still had not been implemented properly. - Sapa