Health welcomes latest HIV survey findings 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Department of Health has welcomed the results of the sixth South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, and Behaviour (SABSSM VI) survey released by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) on Monday. 

The department believes the results will assist the country in strengthening the interventions in response to the epidemic. 

“These show that the country is on track to achieve a new set of ambitious targets to ensure 95% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 95% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection receive sustained treatment, and 95% of all those on treatment have viral suppression by 2025.” 

The department also welcomed the reduction in the percentage of all people living with HIV in South Africa from 14.0% in 2017 to 12.7% in 2022, which translates to almost 7.8 million people in 2022 compared to 7.9 million in 2017. 

This, according to the department’s statement, can be attributed to collaborative efforts by various stakeholders involved and interventions introduced to curb the rate of transmission and treatment adherence. 

“The results will also assist the department and stakeholders in resource mobilisation and allocation, especially in gaps identified to be in a better position to rearrange our landscape so that we plug the holes where the gaps are greatest.” 

While the results show clearly that the prevalence of HIV is declining, the department said there were some worrying patterns regarding the age group from 25 and 49. 

According to the latest data, the most pronounced differences in HIV prevalence by sex were seen among younger populations. 

Among females, HIV prevalence was highest in ages 35 to 39 years at 34.2%, whereas among males, HIV prevalence was highest in ages 45 to 49 years at 27.1%.

“This requires us to change our tactics because this age band can be complicated to manage given the social and economic dynamics.”

The results, the statement said, support the case for the implementation of the differentiated model of care or Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD), which is a person-centred approach to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment. 

The department explained that through the DSD approach, the services are tailored to meet the needs of the users. 

“Lastly, we have also embarked on various prevention methods, which are also tailored for each population group. Since prevention is and will always be better than cure, we also offer prevention interventions within our public health services which include pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) male and female condoms and compatible water-based lubricant.” –