South Africa Could Have Prevented 365000 AIDS Deaths

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The South African government could have prevented about 365,000 AIDS-related deaths earlier this decade by providing antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people and by implementing a mother-to-child HIV prevention program, according to a study to be published in the Dec. 1 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, the New York Times reports (Dugger, New York Times, 11/26).

For the study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health compared the HIV/AIDS policies of the South African government from 1999 through 2008 with those of neighboring Botswana and Namibia. According to AFP/, Botswana and Namibia began providing HIV treatment to people in need before South Africa (AFP/, 11/26).


The researchers quantified the "human cost" of South Africa's "inaction" on HIV/AIDS by comparing the number of people who began receiving antiretrovirals between 2000 and 2005 with the estimated number of people who would have received drugs if a "workable" program had been implemented, according to the Times.

The study found that 23% of South Africans in need of HIV treatment were receiving it as of 2005 but that half of those in need could have been reached. Botswana was providing antiretrovirals to 85% of people in need by 2005, while Namibia was providing treatment to 71%, the study noted.

The study concluded that as a result of a lack of treatment, 330,000 South African adults and 35,000 infants died prematurely of AIDS-related causes, resulting in the loss of a combined 3.8 million life years (New York Times, 11/26).

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