oa South African Family Practice - Common ethical issues related to HIV/AIDS : CPD ethics

Volume 53, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



South Africa is the epicentre of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic. Based on a wide range of data, including household and antenatal studies, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that HIV prevalence was 17.8% among 15-49 year-olds at the end of 2009. Their high and low estimates were 17.2% and 18.3% respectively. According to their own total population estimation, this implies that at the end of 2009, around 5.6 million South Africans were living with HIV, including 300 000 children under 15 years old. The national prevalence of HIV is around 11%. In 2008, an estimated 5.2 million people were living with HIV and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in South Africa, and it is believed that over 250 000 people died of AIDS. AIDS is a major factor in the overall rising number of deaths. Around 70 000 babies are born with HIV every year. Statistics South Africa (SSA) reveals that the annual number of deaths rose by 93% between 1997-2006. Among those aged 25-49 years, the rise was 173% in the same nine-year period. The overall increase in the number of deaths, as reported by SSA, is attributed to population growth. However, as they point out, these figures do not clarify the disparity in the rise in deaths among people aged 25-49 years. It is believed that AIDS-related deaths are underestimated because many doctors avoid mentioning the cause of death on the death certificates.

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