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HIV Statistics South Africa – Prevalence, province, antiretroviral treatment (ART)

Collecting HIV survey statistics in South Africa

Collecting HIV survey statistics in South Africa

Collecting the HIV statistics

Most of the HIV statistics that are available for South Africa are estimates, that is they are approximate figures. Many of them come from the 2012 population based survey of HIV prevalence carried out by the HSRC. The 2012 survey was the fourth such survey to be carried out.  The survey looked at a representative sample of the population and from this was then able to estimate national figures.

HIV prevalence

The HIV prevalence is the percentage of people that are HIV positive in the population out of the total population at a given point in time.

In 2012 it was estimated that 12.2% of the population, that is 6.4 million people were HIV positive.

This is  1.2 million more People Living with HIV (PLHIV) than in 2008, when the percentage was 10.6, that is 5.2 million people. The increased prevalence of HIV in 2012 is largely due to the combined effect of new infections, and a successfully expanded antiretroviral treatment programme, which has increased survival among people living with HIV.

HIV Prevalence Rate by Province

There was considerable variation in the rate according to the province.

HIV prevalence rate by province in South Africa in 2012
Prevalence Rate 16.9 14.1 14.0 13.3 12.4 11.6 9.2 7.4 5

Key: KwaZulu-Natal, MP – Mpumalanga, FS – Free State, NW – North West, GP – Gauteng, EC – Eastern Cape, LP – Limpopo, NC – Northern Cape, WC – Western Cape

HIV Prevalence Rate by Age and Sex

There was also found to be considerable variation in prevalence rates between women and men.

HIV Prevalence Rate by Age and Sex in South Africa 2012
0-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60+
Men 2.3 0.7 5.1 17.3 25.6 28.8 15.8 13.4 15.5 5.5 4.6
Women 2.4 5.6 17.4 28.4 36.0 31.6 28.0 19.7 14.8 9.7 2.4

Overall women had a significant higher HIV prevalence than men. The prevalence of HIV was highest among women aged 30-34 and among men aged 35-39. In the teenage population the estimated HIV prevalence among women was eight times that of their male equivalents. This suggests that female teenagers aged 15-19 are more likely than their male equivalents to have sex, not with people in the same age group, but with older sex partners.

In the age group 30-35 over one third of all women were estimated to be HIV positive

Important populations

Although the epidemic in South Africa is a generalised epidemic, there are some specific populations or groups of people, who have a higher than average rate of HIV prevalence. The HIV survey found these groups to be:

Key populations South Africa 2012
Population HIV Prevalence
Black African women aged 20-35 31.6%
People co-habiting 30.9%
Black African men aged 25-49 25.7%
Disabled people 15 and over 16.7%
High risk alcohol drinkers 15 and over 14.3%
Recreational drug users 12.7%

Antiretroviral treatment

By 2012

there were just over 2 million South Africans estimated to have been exposed to antiretrovirals.

Antiretroviral treatment exposure by sex, age & race South Africa 2012
Estimated number of people living with HIV Estimated number of people on antiretroviral treatment Proportion of people living with HIV on antiretroviral treatment
Male 2,531,000 651,000 25.7%
Female 3,873,000 1,344,000 34.7%
Age group (years)
0-14 369,000 166,000 45.1%
15-24 720,000 103,000 14.3%
25-49 4,706,000 1,466,000 31.2%
50+ 610,000 260,000 42.7%
15-49 5,426,000 1,569,000 28.9%%
Black African 6,232,000 1,924,000 30.9%
Other 172,000 71,000 41.3%

By 2014

it was estimated that the number of PLHIV who were receiving antiretroviral therapy was 3,078,570.

No. of PLHIV receiving ART 2009-2014
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
No. receiving ART 616,337 933,621 1,611,430 2,350,180 2,760,620 3,078,570

It was estimated that the number of AIDS related deaths was 140,000. TB was the primary cause of death for PLHIV in 2014.

Estimates of AIDS related deaths
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Estimated AIDS deaths for all ages 320,000 290,000 220,000 160,000 140,000


TB and HIV co-infection

It is estimated that the TB/HIV co-infection rate in South Africa is over 60%. So this means that the country’s TB epidemic is directly linked to HIV incidence and prevalence.

As an increasing number of people who are already HIV positive are receiving ART, so a decreasing number of them are developing TB. However, this has to be seen alongside the need to provide ART for those people who are becoming newly infected.

HIV incidence

The HIV incidence is the number of new HIV infections in a population during a certain time period.

Using the Spectrum mathematical model the South African HIV incidence is estimated to have been 500,000  in 2004, 430,000 in 2009 and 330,000 in 2014.

Using another model, the THEMBISA model, the South African HIV incidence is estimated to have been 537,846 in 2004, 438,209 in 2009 and 340,985 in 2012.

You can read more about HIV & TB in South Africa by looking at

TB & HIV in South Africa

or TB statistics for South Africa.

Major Sources for HIV statistics South Africa

South Africa Global AIDS Response Progress Report (GARPR) http://sanac.org.za/2016/06/22/global-aids-response-progress-report-garpr-2015/

South African Dept. of Health Annual Performance Plan 2014/15 – 2016/17 www.hst.org.za/publications/national-department-health-annual-performance-plan-201415-201617

South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey 2012  http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/research-data/view/6871