About 23% of South African Soldiers Estimated To Be HIV-Positive, Official Says
Approximately 23% of the 75,000 soldiers in the South African National Defence Force are estimated to be HIV-positive, SANDF Health Service Director Pieter Oelofse announced on Tuesday, South Africa's Star reports (Michaels, Star, 8/18). The HIV prevalence estimate was based on health assessment tests for soldiers who were deployed on various missions, South Africa's Sunday Times reports (Sunday Times, 8/18). Oelofse said that 17% of SANDF soldiers tested HIV-positive during preparation for a 1999 deployment, and a similar percentage tested HIV-positive during routine health assessments in March 2000, according to the Star. Although official statistics show that about 2.5% of deaths among SANDF soldiers were AIDS-related, many soldiers do not want their HIV-positive status revealed, Oelofse said. He added that obesity and hearing loss are more prevalent and serious threats than HIV infection to the combat readiness of SANDF soldiers, the Star reports (Star, 8/18). The country's overall HIV prevalence is estimated to be 15.2% this year, according to Xinhua News Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 8/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.