South African Actuaries Say ‘Modest’ Policy, Behavior Changes Could Prevent More Than One Million HIV Infections Over 10 Years
The Actuarial Society of South Africa said on Friday that AIDS-related causes accounted for 26% of deaths in South Africa in 2000 and could account for many more if the government does not promote HIV treatment and prevention programs, Reuters reports. The latest model for the society -- which calculates insurance risk and recommends insurance premium levels -- estimated that 5.3 million South Africans are HIV-positive and 236,000 have AIDS. Last year, the model shows, AIDS-related causes were responsible for 139,000 deaths in the country, and that figure could rise to five million over the next decade unless there is a "widespread change in sexual behavior or medical interventions." The society's estimates are the latest in a series of conflicting reports over the number of AIDS-related deaths in South Africa. South African President Thabo Mbeki has said that external causes such as poverty and violence kill more South Africans than AIDS (Reuters, 9/21). However, an unreleased report by the South African Medical Research Council states that AIDS is the leading cause of death in the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/17). The actuarial model suggests that the government "phas[e] in" antiretrovirals to prevent vertical transmission over the next five years. The model also recommends that South Africans reduce their number of sexual partners by 15% and double their use of condoms. Such "modest" changes in behavior and government treatment policy could reduce the number of HIV infections by 1.2 million over the next decade, the society said. Such interventions would also cut by more than 50% the number of infants born with the virus (Reuters, 9/21).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.