The 3rd South African National HIV, Behaviour and Health Survey
has kicked off in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban aiming to reach
28 000 people in 15 000 randomly selected households across the
country in the next five months.
The survey will be undertaken by a consortium of research
institutions led by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
and seeks to find out the levels of HIV infection in South
Africa, and to learn what South Africans know, believe and feel
"This survey is a key instrument in our understanding the reach
of HIV in our country. If we cannot reliably ascertain the extent
of the disease in the country, we cannot plan accordingly. We
need reliable figures so that a host of health and social
interventions in response to HIV in the public, private and NGO
sectors, can be targeted and implemented accurately," said Dr
Olive Shisana, CEO of the HSRC:
Fieldworkers are already in the field in the Western Cape,
Gauteng, North-West, and the Free State.
The survey involves asking participants to be pricked on a
fingertip or heel (in the case of babies using a small pin known
as a lancet), which will yield a few drops of blood that will be
collected on special paper.
Those aged 12 years and older will also answer questions about
their health and sexual behaviour. Participation is voluntary and
all participants will remain completely anonymous. The point is
not to furnish participants with their results, but rather to
gain a clearer understanding of the reach of HIV/AIDS in South
Africa and people�s responses to the epidemic.
Many high profile individuals in South Africa have given their
support to this important study and have agreed to promote
participation in the survey. These calls for participation are
aimed at all South Africans - old and young, of all races,
able-bodied and disabled, and people from many different
In Pretoria, Hlubi Mboya, who plays HIV-positive Nandipha in the
SABC soapi Isidingo, gave a blood sample for the survey. "My
dream", she said, "is to see an AIDS-free generation".
The 5fm morning show team, hosted by Gareth Cliff, who gave a
blood sample on air this morning, called on listeners on air to
participate in the study if they are selected for giving a blood
sample and the accompanying questionnaire.
At the HSRC office in Cape Town, Olympic swimmer Natalie du Toit
also joined in the call for participation of young, and
especially white South Africans, in the survey. She also gave a
blood sample to illustrate the anonymous nature of the survey.
Information from this survey will inform policy makers about the
HIV/AIDS situation in South Africa and will also help to inform
HIV prevention campaigns and contribute to the expansion of
services for people and families infected and affected by AIDS
and people living with HIV/AIDS.