oa African Journal of Laboratory Medicine - South Africa's experience with provision of quality HIV diagnostic services : country profile

Volume 5 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2225-2002
  • E-ISSN: 2225-2010



South Africa is an upper-middle-income country with the second-largest economy in Africa. In mid 2015, the population was estimated at 54.96 million; 51.0% were women and 30.2% were younger than 15 years of age. The population density, age and gender structures, however, vary significantly. South Africans have a high burden of communicable diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis, as well as non-communicable chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Life expectancy has seen progressive increases over the years, in part due to the rapid and effective scale-up of HIV and tuberculosis care in the country. In 2015, life expectancy was 60.6 years for men and 64.3 years for women. However, maternal and child mortality rates are relatively high compared to other middle-income countries. The latest UNAIDS estimates for 2015 indicated that almost 7 million [6.7-7.4 million] South Africans were living with HIV.6 In the 15-49-year age group, prevalence was as high as 19.2%, with women the worst affected. In the 0-14-year age group, 240 000 children are estimated to be living with HIV. Antiretroviral therapy coverage is expanding, with approximately 3.4 million South Africans currently receiving antiretroviral therapy and close to 4 million predicted to be on antiretroviral therapy in the 2016 and 2017 fiscal year.

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