South Africa Has 1.5M Fewer HIV-Positive People Than UNAIDS Estimates, Report Says
South Africa has about 1.5 million fewer HIV-positive people than UNAIDS reported earlier this month, according to a new report released Wednesday by the country's governmental statistics agency Stats SA, Reuters reports (Wanneburg, Reuters, 7/28). According to Stats SA's mid-year statistical report, there are about 3.8 million HIV-positive people in South Africa, and approximately 1.5 million people have died from AIDS-related causes (Xinhuanet, 7/29). The 2004 UNAIDS Report of the Global AIDS Epidemic estimated that there were 5.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa at the end of 2003 (UNAIDS report, 7/6). The U.S. Census Bureau had estimated that AIDS-related deaths in the country totaled three million. According to Heston Phillips, executive manager of demographic analysis for Stats SA, the agency's figures are "in line" with estimates of other local agencies such as the Actuarial Society of South Africa, which lowered its estimate of the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country from 5.26 million in 2000 to 3.7 million in 2002 after altering its statistical methodology. Philips added that Stats SA obtained the figure by analyzing official data, including cause of death and census statistics. Stats SA said that the lower estimate is the result of "differences in assumptions" about HIV's spread, adding that the figures do not support critics who "say the pandemic has been exaggerated," Reuters reports. Previous estimates derived national figures from data collected on pregnant women at prenatal clinics, who represent a "relatively small section of the population," according to Reuters (Reuters, 7/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.