South African health officials are challenging the Development Bank of Southern Africa’s (DBSA) claim that 7.6 million South Africans are living with HIV, according to South African newspaper Business Day/ (, 5/6).

The country’s health department recorded 5.4 million people living with HIV in 2006, a figure similar to that released by the United Nations, the Actuarial Society of SA and the Human Sciences Research Council.

Demographer Rob Dorrington says that the DBSA figure is more in line with infection rates estimated through the outdated ASSA 2000 model, which doesn’t account for the work of prevention and treatment programs. The higher DBSA estimate was published on Sunday, May 4, in another newspaper, the Sunday Independent.

“Maybe [I] got mixed up with the files and sent the wrong one out [to the Sunday Independent reporter],” says DBSA HIV researcher Johan Calitz. “I’m not sure.” He adds that the DBSA used data sources from other researchers, including local authority surveys, hospitals and mortuaries, which may attribute to the disparity.

South African health officials request that the DBSA’s figure be subject to peer review.