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South African Press Association
HIV Deaths to Increase in 2003, MPs Hear

February 5, 2003
MPs attending a portfolio committee meeting on social development on Wednesday heard that the projected mortality rates for South Africans dying of HIV/Aids will increase from 219660 in 2000 to 375670 in 2003.

This was according to Dr Olive Shisana, the executive director of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) during a live video link-up between her Pretoria offices and Parliament.

Statistics South Africa also gave a presentation, with both reports focusing on the latest HIV studies performed by the two organisations late last year.

According to Dr Heston Phillips of Stats SA, their report showed that HIV deaths accounted for seven percent of deaths between 1997 and 2001.

When MPs questioned the accuracy of some of the statistics, Phillips admitted that the "HIV figures might be higher than is reflected".

The report indicated that during the period 1997 to 2001 tuberculosis (TB) and HIV were ranked as numbers one and two respectively for leading underlying causes of deaths for both males and females.

This was in contrast to their being ranked third and fourth respectively in 1997.

The report showed that black women were most likely to die from HIV/Aids, with their mortality rate almost ten times higher than that of their white and Indian counterparts.

MPs then listened to Dr Shisana, who presented the Nelson Mandela/HSRC Study on HIV/Aids.

This report showed that national HIV prevalence was about 4.5 million people, with the Eastern Cape having the lowest HIV prevalence in the country.

The report showed that condom use had increased dramatically, with 90 percent of youth and adults reporting easy access to condoms.

Shisana said one of the serious findings was the fact that 76 percent of HIV-positive South Africans were not aware of their status.

"But even more serious is that 63 percent of those who were not aware of their HIV-positive status did not perceive themselves to be at risk".

The report indicated that public perceptions of government were fairly positive, with the majority of South Africans recognising the work government leaders did and not believing they were in denial. However, people felt that government was not allocating sufficient resources to fight the pandemic.

Shisana said that it was important that "research led to policy changes" and hoped that all suggestions would be used in the fight against HIV, something which the acting chair of the committee meeting, Mampe Ramotsamai agreed to./rjt