HIV Prevalence Within South African Military Does Not Weaken Force, Defense Minister Says
South Africa's military is not deteriorating despite news reports of budget constraints, staffing shortages and a 23% HIV prevalence rate among troops, Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said on Monday, Reuters AlertNet reports (Quinn, Reuters AlertNet, 9/5). He said that the prevalence is an estimate based on a 1.2% incidence rate and a baseline prevalence of 17% gained through 1999-2000 pre-deployment health assessments of a high-risk sample group. "It must be emphasized that this is an extrapolated conclusion," he added. Lekota on Tuesday said that only HIV-positive soldiers who have a CD4+ T-cell count lower than 200 cells per cubic millimeter or symptoms of an opportunistic infection are eligible to receive antiretroviral drugs under World Health Organization and national Department of Health guidelines. He also said that the ages of the HIV-positive soldiers are not known because units tested during health assessments consist of a range of age groups (Pressley, Mail & Guardian, 9/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.