A new study released yesterday has shown that the infection rate of HIV in South Africa has levelled off at 10.9% for individuals aged two and over. The study also seems to suggest that the rate of new HIV cases in children and teenagers is falling.

The study, which was conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council warned that although the figure were looking promising, the overall outlook remained dire, as South Africa has the biggest HIV-positive population in the world, at 5.5 million.

Women are still most affected by the HIV virus in South Africa, with 33% of 20 – 34 year olds carrying the infection.

Olive Shisana, who led the study, which tested over 20,000 people, said that the results were, “promising findings of a changing pattern of HIV infection among children and youth”.

Adding that, “The good news is that the change in HIV prevalence in children is most likely attributable to the successful implementation of several HIV-prevention interventions”.

The study showed that HIV prevalence had fallen in children aged between 2 and 14 from 5.6% in 2002 to 2.5% last year, and that there was also a fall in new HIV cases amongst 15 – 19 year olds.

The use of condoms has also dramatically increased, with 87% of men between 15 and 24 saying that they used a condom during their last sexual encounter, up from 57% in 2002. The percentage of women using condoms for the same age group also rose from 46% in 2002 to 73% in 2008.

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