Around one in 10 South Africans are living with HIV, according to a report released by Statistics SA on Thursday.
Statistician general Pali Lehohla, speaking at the release of the mid-year population estimates report in Pretoria, said 6.19 million South Africans, 11.2%, are living with the disease, out of an estimated total population of 54.95 million people.
The number of South Africans infected with HIV has increased by 2.17 million since 2002, when 4.02 million South Africans were living with the virus.
However, infections were dropping, with the incidence rate for people between the ages of 15 and 49 declining.
This could be seen in the reduction of infections for those aged between 15 and 24. In 2002, 6.75% of this group were infected with HIV, dropping to 5.59% in 2015.
There had been a gradual drop in Aids-related deaths since 2002.
‘Life expectancy is increasing’
In 2015, Stats SA estimates that 531 965 people had died, with 162 445 of those being Aids-related – or 30.5%. In 2002, 44.6% of all deaths were Aids-related; this figure peaked in 2005 at 50.7%.
“We need to look at what progress is being achieved in demographics,” Lehohla said.
“Life expectancy is increasing. That is the biggest demographic gain the world observes.”
He said in Africa, life expectancy had increased by 20 years since the 1950s.
In South Africa, average life expectancy in 2015 was 62.5 years, an increase of 9.1 years since 2004. The average life expectancy for a South African male was 60.6 years, while for a woman, it was 64.2 years.
The increase in average life expectancy was matched by a drop in both the infant mortality rate and the children-under-5 mortality rate.
In 2002, the infant mortality rate was 51.2 babies per 1 000 live births, and peaked at 52 babies per 1 000 live births. In 2015, it has dropped to 34.4 deaths per 1 000 live births.
In 2002, deaths of children under five was 77.2 per 1 000 children, peaking at 79.1 in 2005. In 2015, this figure has dropped significantly to 45.1 per 1 000 children.
‘Loadshedding might help with good birth rate’
Lehohla said, on average, South African women were having 2.55 children each since 2011. This was a decline from 2.79 in 2002.
The province with the highest birth rate was the Eastern Cape, at three children per woman. This was followed by KwaZulu-Natal (2.9), Limpopo (2.89), North West (2.57), Mpumalanga (2.53) and the Northern Cape (2.39).
The lowest birth rates are in the Free State (2.26), the Western Cape (2.19) and Gauteng (2.08). While Gauteng has the lowest birth rate in South Africa, it is the country’s most populated province, with 13.2 million people – 24% of the country’s total population.
SA’s population had grown 1.65% from 2014 to 2015, compared with 1.28% from 2002 to 2003.
The natural rate of the increase is 1.3% in 2015, with the remainder being made up by migration.
“Load shedding might help us with the good birth rate,” said Lehohla.
He emphasised how important the youth were to the country and the continent’s future.