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Epidemiological and demographic HIV/AIDS projections: South Africa

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The Epidemic Projection Package (EPP) recently developed by the UNAIDS Reference Group on Estimates, Models and Projections and the Spectrum model program developed by the Futures Group were used to model the South African HIV epidemic, project future trends in HIV/AIDS and estimate the demographic impact of AIDS. The national HIV prevalence surveys among pregnant women from 1990-2001 and the first national, population-based HIV survey in 2002 served as the data sets used to calibrate the input HIV prevalence values for the model.

The scenario created by the model showed that a dramatic rise in HIV prevalence during the 1990s has peaked in 2002 with 4.69 million infected people and it is projected that the epidemic in South Africa has now begun to level off. Adult (15-49 years) incidence rates have decreased substantially in the past five years since 1997 (4.2%) and are expected to reach a level of 1.7% in 2003. The annual number of deaths due to AIDS is projected to peak with 487 320 AIDS deaths in the year 2008. By 2020, the total population of South Africa is expected to be 23% smaller than it would be without AIDS, however, a negative population growth rate is not expected during the projection period. Life expectancy at birth is expected to hit a low of 45.6 years in the time period 2005-2010, which is 22 years less than it would have been in the absence of AIDS. Ten years from now over 2.5 million AIDS orphans are projected for South Africa.

Models play an important role in estimating HIV variables that are difficult to measure. Projections of the future HIV/AIDS burden in South Africa underscore the importance of acting now to reduce the number of new infections and plan for medical and social care needs.
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Keywords: AIDS mortality; HIV prevalence; demographic impact; modelling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Independent Consultant in International Health and Disease Control, 1426 G Street SE, Washington, DC 20003, USA 2: HSRC/SAHA, Private Bag X9182, Cape Town 8000, South Africa

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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