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A Re-Look at Recent Statistics on Mortality in the Context of HIV/AIDS with Particular Reference to South Africa

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Since the outbreak of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s, various organisations and researchers have produced statistics on HIV/AIDS including HIV prevalence, incidence, number of AIDS cases, AIDS-related mortality as well as life expectancy at birth in the context of HIV/AIDS. Until recently HIV-prevalence statistics as well as models projecting the impact of HIV/AIDS utilised HIV-prevalence statistics based on women attending antenatal clinics as population-based prevalence statistics were non-existent. Among others, the extrapolation of HIV-prevalence statistics from surveillance sites to the general population has been questioned. Recent statistics on HIV-prevalence from population-based surveys strongly suggest that HIV-prevalence in many countries may not be as high as earlier estimated and projected. In addition, model estimates of HIV/AIDS-prevalence and impact on mortality often use conventional model life tables such as the Coale-Demeny Regional, UN, and Brass standard life tables, which in the case of South Africa give female life expectancy at birth plummeting from about 65 years in the mid-1990s to around 49-50 years in 2005. The standard life tables often employed in these estimates do not take account of the ‘hump’ in the mortality curve due to AIDS-related deaths as these standard mortality schedules were developed prior to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Given this background, this paper provides a critical look at recent statistics on infant mortality rates and life expectancies at birth in the context of HIV/AIDS in parts of Southern and Eastern Africa with particular reference to South Africa.

Keywords: HIV; Infant mortality; Mortality; South Africa; life expectancy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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  • Current HIV Research aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments of HIV research. We invite comprehensive review articles and novel, pioneering work in the basic and clinical fields on all areas of HIV research, including virus replication and gene expression, HIV assembly, virus-cell interaction, viral pathogenesis, epidemiology and transmission, anti-retroviral therapy and adherence, drug discovery, the latest developments in HIV/AIDS vaccines and animal models, mechanisms and interactions with AIDS related diseases, social and public health issues related to HIV disease, and prevention of viral infection. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews and original research written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on HIV research. Periodically, the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a particular area of HIV research of great interest that increases our understanding of the virus and its complex interaction with the host.
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