- CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The
rate of HIV infection has soared among South African teenage girls who
are already most at risk from the deadly disease, health officials said
- A Cape Town health department survey showed the rate
of increase in HIV infection among teenage girls had jumped by nearly two-thirds
from 1997 to 1998. ``In the age group 15 to 19 years... 21 percent of them
were HIV positive,'' city health director Ivan Thomas told a workshop on
abuse of women and children. He said the 21 percent infection rate reflected
a 65 percent increase from 1997.
- Thomas blamed the steep rise on several myths, including
one that if HIV-infected men had sex with a virgin they could rid themselves
of the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
- South Africa with a population of 40 million people has
about four million people infected with HIV, and there are 1,700 new infections
a day making it one of the countries with the highest infection rates in
- Within three years, about 250,000 South Africans are
expected to die each year of AIDS related disease, with infant mortality
expected to nearly treble by 2003. President Thabo Mbeki -- under pressure
to supply the AIDS drug AZT to thousands of rape victims and HIV positive
pregnant women in South Africa -- caused a furore in October when he cast
doubt on the usefulness of the drug.
- There was a renewed uproar last month with reports the
government was setting up a committee of experts to not only examine the
efficacy of AZT but the whole linkage between HIV and AIDS.
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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