HIV in South Africa: "This is the first time we have seen a decline in the number of cases"

South Africa has seen a decline in the number of people living with HIV over the past five years. These results are encouraging given that South Africa alone accounts for a third of African cases, with more than 85,000 annual AIDS-related deaths in recent years. Interview with Dr. Sean Jooste from the team at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), the South African public institute that conducted the scientific field studies.

An HIV self-test in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 19, 2018. © MUJAHID SAFODIEN / AFP

By: Guillaume Thibault


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RFI: How does this new data show a change in HIV in South Africa?

Sean Jooste: We started these studies in 2002, this is the 6th report we have published and this is the first time we have seen a decline in the number of cases. In the past, we have always seen a steady increase in the number of people living with HIV.

In 2017, 14% of the population was a carrier of the virus, 12.7% in 2022. So we went from 7.9 million to 7.8 million carriers. That's 100,000 fewer people. So it's promising, but, let's face it, there are still far too many people living with AIDS in the country.

What are the objectives now?

The decline in condom use is a real problem. Especially for individuals who have multiple partners. And the use of condoms is also a problem among the younger generations, if we want to make progress, we need to target these young people.

However, we have also seen progress, including a decline in the rate of HIV infection among these younger generations. This is the first time that this decrease has been observed. So one of our objectives, our priorities, is to continue, to confirm these gains, these progresses.

Another element is that we need to focus on people living with AIDS. And this will be one of the keys to success, we need these patients to have access to treatment at all times. This is one of the priorities of NGOs on the ground. And every effort must be made to ensure that HIV patients are aware of this medical device and have access to treatment.

Read alsoIn South Africa, a preventive injection against HIV is already seducing the authorities

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