Hopeful trend of reduced HIV infections

RESEARCHERS have released a report confirming that there has been a significant decline of new HIV infections among young people in South Africa in recent years.

RESEARCHERS have released a report confirming that there has been a significant decline of new HIV infections among young people in South Africa in recent years.

The report, compiled by Thomas Rehle and others, was published in the medical journal PloS One last week. It analysed the findings of the last three national HIV household surveys conducted in 2002, 2005 and 2008.

The report confirmed that HIV infections among 15- to 24-year-olds decreased by 60 percent between the two inter-survey periods 2002-2005 and 2005-2008. It also showed that there was an overall decrease in new infections by 35 percent.

Rehle and his team believe though that the overall decrease in HIV incidence did not reach statistical significance. It was boosted by the 60 percent reduction of new infections in 15- to 24-year-olds.

"The availability of survey data collected in 2002, 2005 and 2008 allows, for the first time, a comparison of incidence estimates for two inter-survey intervals. Our estimate of incidence highlights that young women in South Africa continue to face the highest risk of HIV infection of any demographic group," researchers stated.

Results show that incidence among young women substantially reduced in recent years.

"There is no strong indication of a reduction in incidence among men or among older women. Nevertheless, the incidence decline among young women has resulted in a reduction in incidence among adults in the country.

"Despite this encouraging development there is no reason to become complacent because 1,3 percent of all uninfected adults, including 2,2 percent of uninfected young women aged 15 to -24 were infected in 2008."

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