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June 9, 2009

Study: South Africa HIV Rate Steady at 10.9% Thanks to Condoms

South Africa’s HIV infection rate has leveled off at 10.9 percent for people ages 2 and older, according to a new study reported on by BBC News.

Researchers surveyed 20,826 people in South Africa, finding that HIV has become far less prevalent among youth ages 2 to 14, with prevalence dropping from 5.6 percent in 2002 to 2.5 percent in 2008. New infections also decreased in the 15 to 19 age group.

Study author Olive Shisana attributed the stabilized rate to an increase in condom usage among young people. In 2002, 57 percent of men ages 15 to 24 reported using a condom during their last sexual encounter. That number rose to 87 percent in 2008. Condom usage among women during that same time period increased from 46 percent to 73 percent.

“There is clearly light at the end of the tunnel,” said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. “There is real light.”

About 5.5 million people in South Africa are living with HIV, the largest positive population in the world.

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