A Call To Action — HIV statistics for South Africa

A Call To Action — HIV statistics for South Africa

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Collecting HIV survey statistics in South Africa

Collecting HIV survey statistics in South Africa

The HIV prevalence for South Africa is the percentage of people that are HIV positive in the population out of the total population at a given point in time. One of the main HIV statistics for South Africa is that by the middle of 2017 12.6% of the population, that is 7.06 million people are HIV positive.1

There are 1.86 million more People Living with HIV (PLHIV) than in 2008, when the percentage was 10.6, that is 5.2 million people. The increased prevalence of HIV in 2017 is largely due to the combined effect of new infections, and a successfully expanded ARV treatment programme, which has increased survival among people living with HIV.

Looking at the total population, the prevalence in women aged 15-49 is 21.17%, the prevalence in adults aged 15-49 is 17.98% and the prevalence among youth aged 15-24 is 4.64%.2

HIV Prevalence Rate South Africa – by age and sex

There is considerable variation in the prevalence rates between women and men.

HIV Prevalence Rate by Age and Sex in South Africa 2012
0-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60+
Men 2.3 0.7 5.1 17.3 25.6 28.8 15.8 13.4 15.5 5.5 4.6
Women 2.4 5.6 17.4 28.4 36.0 31.6 28.0 19.7 14.8 9.7 2.4

Overall women had a significant higher HIV prevalence than men. The prevalence of HIV was highest among women aged 30-34 and among men aged 35-39. In the teenage population the estimated HIV prevalence among women was eight times that of their male equivalents. This suggests that female teenagers aged 15-19 are more likely than their male equivalents to have sex, not with people in the same age group, but with older sex partners. In the age group 30-35 over one third of all women were estimated to be HIV positive.

HIV Prevalence Rate South Africa – by province

There was also in 2012 considerable variation in the prevalence rate according to the province.3

HIV prevalence rate by province in South Africa in 2012
Prevalence Rate 16.9 14.1 14.0 13.3 12.4 11.6 9.2 7.4 5

Key: KwaZulu-Natal, MP – Mpumalanga, FS – Free State, NW – North West, GP – Gauteng, EC – Eastern Cape, LP – Limpopo, NC – Northern Cape, WC – Western Cape

Important South African populations

Although the epidemic in South Africa is a generalised epidemic, there are some specific populations or groups of people, who have a higher than average rate of HIV prevalence. The HIV survey in 2012 found these groups to be:4

Key populations South Africa 2012
Population HIV Prevalence
Black African women aged 20-35 31.6%
People co-habiting 30.9%
Black African men aged 25-49 25.7%
Disabled people 15 and over 16.7%
High risk alcohol drinkers 15 and over 14.3%
Recreational drug users 12.7%

HIV incidence

The HIV incidence is the number of new HIV infections in a population during a certain time period. In 2016 the incidence was 270,000.


It is estimated that the number of PLHIV receiving ARVs in 2016 was 3,900,000. This is however still only 53% of those eligible for treatment.

No. of PLHIV receiving ART 2009-2014
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
No. receiving ART 616,337 933,621 1,611,430 2,350,180 2,760,620 3,078,570

HIV related deaths

It was estimated that in 2017 the number of AIDS related deaths was 126,755. TB was the primary cause of death for PLHIV in 2017. The highest number of deaths is estimated to have been in 2006 when an estimated 345,185 people died. The number of deaths has declined consistently since then, as a result of access to antiretrovirals.

Estimates of AIDS related deaths
2010 2014 2015 2016 2017
Estimated AIDS deaths for all ages 148,632 142,534 143,059 135,154 126,755

TB and HIV co-infection

It is estimated that the TB/HIV co-infection rate in South Africa is nearly 60%. So this means that the country’s TB epidemic is directly linked to HIV incidence and prevalence.

As an increasing number of people who are already HIV positive are receiving ART, so a decreasing number of them are developing TB. However, this has to be seen alongside the need to provide ARVs for those people who are becoming newly infected.

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