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World AIDS Day 2020

01 Dec 2020

HIV and AIDS statistics for South Africa

Globally South Africa has the largest HIV epidemic, accounting for:

  • 20% of people living with HIV
  • 12% of new infections
  • 10% of AIDS-related deaths

In 2019, 200,000 South Africans were infected with HIV. That is 548 per day and 23 every hour. 

7.5 million South Africans are living with HIV:

  • 4.7 million (63%) are women
  • 2.5 million (33%) are men
  • 340 000 (5%) are children

70% of South Africans living with HIV are receiving antiretroviral therapy.

95% of HIV-positive pregnant women are accessing treatment to prevent HIV transmission to their babies.

In 2019, 72,000 deaths were AIDS-related. AIDS-related deaths have declined from 290,000 in 2006 to 72,000 in 2019.

TB is the number one cause of death among people living with HIV. Also 58% of TB patients in South Africa are HIV-positive. 

Sources: UNAIDS Data 2020 and WHO Global TB Report 2020 

World AIDS Day is held on December 1st each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to honour those who have died.  This year, South Africa has combined the global theme “Global solidarity, shared responsibility” and the theme of the national wellness campaign ‘Cheka Impilo’ which serves as a call to action for all South Africans to take responsibility for their health and wellness.

HIV and AIDS in South Africa

South Africa has been relentless in its mission to turn the HIV, AIDS, and TB epidemics around and there are notable achievements to celebrate. A review of our efforts in addressing the HIV and AIDS epidemic over the past 20 years, paints a mixed picture. There have been many scientific advances in HIV treatment and we now have a much better understanding of the virus More people are receiving antiretroviral treatment, which means HIV infection rates are decreasing. There is also a scientific optimism around the benefits of treatment as prevention, and progress towards a cure and vaccine.

However, despite these advances, stigma and discrimination still persist for many people living with, or affected by HIV. World AIDS Day 2014 is an opportunity for all South Africans to remind themselves that HIV is still a reality and that it is incumbent on all of us to continue fighting prejudice, stigma and discrimination.

South Africa has come a long way in the fight against HIV and AIDS. In 2012 government implemented the National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Tuberculosis 2012 – 2016.

In 2010 government also scaled up its antiretroviral treatment programme. A further expansion is planned from January 2015 to bring South Africa in line with World Health Organisation treatment guidelines. As part of this, the Department of Health will start HIV-positive patients with a CD4 count of 500 or less on antiretroviral treatment, as opposed to the present CD4 count of 350.  All HIV-positive pregnant women will also receive lifelong treatment, regardless of their CD4 counts. Currently, HIV-positive pregnant women receive treatment until they stop breastfeeding.

Despite our many advances we still struggle to eliminate the stigma associated with HIV infection and the resultant discrimination. There are still people with limited knowledge of the facts about how to protect themselves and others.

Former President Nelson Mandela said: "Many people suffering from AIDS and not killed by the disease itself are killed by the stigma surrounding everybody who has HIV and AIDS.”

The devastating effects include abandonment by spouse or family, social ostracism, job and property loss, school expulsion, denial of medical services, lack of care and support, and violence.

It also results in a lower uptake of HIV preventive services and postponing or rejecting care. Women tend to experience greater stigma and discrimination than men and are more likely to experience its harshest and most damaging effects.

World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public that HIV has not gone away and that collectively, there is the need to increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education to maintain and achieve the aims and objectives of the country as set out in the National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB 2012-2016.

Why stigma and discrimination matter

Stigma and discrimination can be as devastating as the illness itself and may mean abandonment by a partner or family, social exclusion, job and property loss, school expulsion, denial of medical services, lack of care and support, and violence for those affected by them. These consequences, or fear of them, mean that people are less likely to come in for HIV testing, disclose their HIV status to others, adopt HIV preventive behaviour or access treatment, care and support.

Every sexually active South African is at risk of contracting HIV. We call on all South Africans to recognise that HIV and AIDS are chronic diseases, and that people living with HIV can have full and happy lives. We each have a responsibility to treat those who are struggling with an HIV-positive diagnosis with compassion, those struggling with AIDS with care, and ourselves and our sexual partners with respect. Addressing stigma and discrimination is important in mitigating the impact of HIV.

World AIDS Day 2020
World AIDS Day 2020
World AIDS Day 2020
World AIDS Day 2020