The introduction of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in South Africa in the mid-2000s reversed what had been a steadily rising AIDS-related death rate in that hard-hit nation. However, AIDS is still vastly underreported as a cause of death there.
Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers developed mathematical models to estimate the AIDS-related death rate in South Africa between 1997 and 2010 while taking into account the estimate that only 6.9 percent of such deaths were correctly reported as related to AIDS.

In 1997, an estimated 14.5 percent of all deaths in South Africa were related to AIDS. This figure grew to 42 percent in 2006, and then fell to 35 percent in 2010.

An estimated 12 percent of South Africans are living with HIV. Antiretroviral treatment, long stalled thanks to former president Thabo Mbeki’s stubborn resistance, was rolled out on a grand scale in 2004. Effective mother-to-child transmission prevention was instituted the year prior.

AIDS remains the leading cause of death in South Africa, taking the lives of over 560 people a day on average.

To read a press release about the study, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.