Sunday, June 11, 2006

Truth about the spread of AIDS

HIV infection rates appear to be levelling in parts of Africa or even falling as has been the case in Uganda.  However the truth can be deceptive as I pointed out to ABSA / Barclays Bank executives in Johannesburg a couple of weeks back.  If you have a seroprevalence rate of 30% and the average person with HIV lives just 15 years (the case in many poor communities),  then to maintain that same infection level, we must be seeing 30% of all adults die in 15 years from AIDS, and a further 30% of those remaining also become infected.


The new antiviral treatments also distort the figures by increasing the survival time, which means less die, and more remain alive.


This can have the paradoxical effect that education can be working in a country with a fall in new infections, but because those already infected are not dying as fast as they were, the numbers with HIV in the country go on rising even though the numbers of new infections have slowed right down.