Death is why HIV stats down

No one else is going to be brave enough to say it, so I might as well. The HIV rate dropped because so many children have died from the disease - too many of them before they reached their productive years. The rate of infection in the under-20s is lower because there are fewer under-20s.

No one else is going to be brave enough to say it, so I might as well. The HIV rate dropped because so many children have died from the disease - too many of them before they reached their productive years. The rate of infection in the under-20s is lower because there are fewer under-20s.

Don't believe me? Let's look at the statistics. Last year, 49percent of all deaths recorded at hospitals across the country were due to HIV- related illnesses. That's one out of every two people.

The infant and early childhood mortality rate went up by 8percent between 2002 and 2005, also due to HIV. Every day there are 1500 new HIV infections and more than 800 people die as a result of Aids-related illnesses. Sub-Saharan Africa has the worst rate of TB in the world, and now also of MDR-TB and XDR-TB.

At a conference recently, doctors warned that for every person treated with ARVs, six others were infected and received no medication.

Now is not the time to celebrate because the HIV rate is down. It is time to intensify the roll out of ARVs, prevent teenage pregnancies and prevent mother-to-child transmission. There is nothing to gloat about because the infection rate is down, when fewer people get infected.

Carol Milner, Johannesburg

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