is currently experiencing one of the most severe AIDS epidemics in the world. By the end of 2005, there were 5.5 million people living with HIV in
South Africa, and almost 1,000 AIDS deaths occurring every day. It is difficult to overstate the suffering that HIV has caused in South Africa. With statistics showing
that almost one in five adults are infected, HIV is widespread in a sense that can be difficult to imagine for those living in less-affected countries. For each person living
with HIV, in South Africa and elsewhere, not only does it impact on their lives, but also those of their families, friends and wider communities. With antiretroviral drug
treatment, HIV-positive people can maintain their health and often lead relatively normal lives. Sadly, few people in South Africa have access to this treatment. This
means that AIDS deaths are alarmingly common throughout the country. It is thought that almost half of all deaths in South Africa, and a staggering 71% of deaths
among those aged between 15 and 49, are caused by AIDS.
So many people are dying from AIDS that in some parts of the country, cemeteries are running out of space
for the dead. A recent survey found that South Africans spent more time at funerals than they did having their hair cut, shopping or having barbecues. It also found that
more than twice as many people had been to a funeral in the past month than had been to a wedding. As well as the death and suffering that HIV has caused on an
individual and community level, South Africa’s AIDS epidemic has also had a substantial impact on the country’s overall social and economic progress: Average life
expectancy in South Africa is now 54 years – without AIDS, it is estimated that it would be 64. Over half of 15 year olds are not expected to reach the age of 60,
between 1990 and 2003 – a period during which HIV prevalence in South Africa increased dramatically – the country fell by 35 places in the Human Development
Index; Hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of HIV-related patients that they have to care for. In 2006 a leading researcher estimated that HIV-positive
patients would soon account for 60-70% of medical expenditure in South African hospitals. Today, schools have fewer teachers because of the AIDS epidemic. In 2006
it was estimated that 21% of teachers in South Africa were living with HIV. National HIV prevalence rate among adults (ages 15-49): 18.8 percent. Adults and children
(ages 0-49) living with HIV at the end of 2005: 5.5 million. AIDS deaths (adults and children) in 2005: 320,000. AIDS orphans at the end of 2005: 1.2 million.
faces a generalized HIV epidemic. There were sharp declines in HIV prevalence in the mid- and late-1990s, but in recent years, prevalence trends have stabilized. In
2005, the national HIV prevalence rate among adults ages 15 to 29 was estimated at 6.7 percent. Nationwide, HIV prevalence is higher in urban areas than in rural areas.
Major vulnerable population groups include young women, people in prostitution and military personnel. National HIV prevalence rate among adults (ages 15-49): 6.7