Study shows great progress in combatting HIV but women still adversely affected

Surveys and studies are not just for the academic and research community, they have important relevance for ordinary people like you and I.

The South African National HIV Prevalence Incidence Behaviour and Communication Survey for 2017, released last month revealed important information that women should take heed of.

The survey, conducted by the Human Science Research Council and other organisations, showed that the incidence of HIV today is higher among females compared to males. Specifically, HIV incidence is currently three times higher among females compared to males. Overall HIV incidence in the reproductive age group was higher among females compared to males. These are concerning statistics for young women.

However, this same survey also showed the great strides forward that South Africa as a country has made in tackling the HIV epidemic and ramping up efforts to prevent and treat HIV with antiretroviral therapy or ART.

Successes include:

  • Mainly, there has been a marked drop in overall HIV incidence by 44% in South Africa, and the largest decline in incidence was among females at 56%
  • We have thousands of people on ART – in fact, ART uptake has doubled since the previous HSRC survey
  • Access to ART contributes to an increase in life expectancyand many people go on to lead normal, healthy lives.
  • Improvement in HIV testing
  • Increasing awareness of HIV status
  • More positive attitudestoward people living with HIV
  • Communication campaignsare reaching South Africans
  • Significant progress has been made towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets.

The main challenges that we still face that the study concluded with were:

  • The number of new HIV infections are still high, especially among femalesaged 15‐24 years and 15‐49 years 
  • HIV prevalence and number of people living with HIV have increased and some still don’t know their status
  • This increase was also seen in all provinces with the Eastern Cape and Western Cape the most affected.
  • Not everyone who is HIV positive is currently on treatment
  • Consistent condom use continues to be low
  • Starting sex before the age of 15 yearsamong male youth continues to increase 
  • More young women are having sex with partners far older than them.

The good thing about a properly researched and compiled study is that it shows us where the gaps are, where our work needs to focus and where we need to ramp up our efforts. It allows SANAC, all government departments, civil society, not for profit organisations like Right to Care, business and employers, donors and funders, traditional leaders and ordinary citizens to work together and take action.

We will unpack some of the issues that women face that this study highlighted here on our Right to Care blog page during Women’s Month. So watch this space.

Here are some important contact numbers for women of all ages who feel they need support in any aspect of their lives right now:

  • Lifeline 0800 555 555
  • Childline 0800 123 321
  • SAPS Emergency 10111
  • AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322
  • Stop Gender Violence 0800 150 150
  • Nearest TCC: Masakhane TCC, Tembisa Hospital , Private x 7, Olifantsfontein

Please also download our Dreams booklet here.