HIV/Aids is a demographic time bomb; the potential damage it can cause to South Africa, its society and economy, is incalculable.
Statistics vary but it is conservatively estimated that between 4.5 and 4.8 million South Africans (10% of the population) are infected with HIV/Aids. What does this figure mean in real terms?
- The life expectancy of the average South African has already dropped from 67 to 57 as a result of the HIV/Aids epidemic.
- 20% of all sexually active girls between the ages of 16 and 18 are infected with HIV/Aids.
- 32% of all deaths among pregnant mothers are caused by Aids.
- By 2001, 10% of the child population – some 662,000 youngsters - had lost one or both parents to HIV/Aids.
- Fifty-five teachers a month are dying of Aids in Kwazulu-Natal. The average age at the time of death was 36. The rate of infection for teachers nationally is 40%.