HIV Statistics for South Africa - Treatment, provinces

The HIV statistics for South Africa include the following estimated figures.1UNAIDS, 2019,

In 2018 7,700,700 people were living with HIV;

10% of people living with HIV were not aware of their status;2New modelling research shows partial progress in South Africa's response to HIV, 2019,

71,000 people died from an AIDS-related illness.

240,000 people were newly infected with HIV. Although this is an improvement on the 270,000 infected in 2016, it is way above the target of 100,000 a year set for 2022 in the National Strategic Plan.

An estimated 2,559 babies were born with HIV in South Africa in 2018. Most of the mother to child transmission occurred during breastfeeding, with an estimated 10,196 mother to child transmitted infections.32018 Global AIDS Monitoring Report,

HIV Treatment

Of all adults aged 15 years and over living with HIV, 62% were on treatment;

63% of children aged 0-14 years and living with HIV were on treatment;

65% of adult women living with HIV were on treatment compared to 56% of adult men.

In 2018 just 57.8% of people initiated on antiretroviral therapy (ART) were retained after 12 months.42018 Global AIDS Monitoring Report, Although a failure to account for patient movement between clinics may be making such estimates of retention in care seem worse than they really are.5Matthew P. Fox, Estimating retention in HIV care accounting for patient transfers: A national laboratory cohort study in South Africa, 2018,

HIV Prevalence

The HIV prevalence is the number of people living with HIV that are present in a particular population at a given time. The prevalence includes newly diagnosed people, plus people diagnosed in the past and people who haven't even been diagnosed. Prevalence is usually but not always given as a percentage of the population.

HIV prevalence among adults (15 - 49) was 20.4%;

HIV prevalence among sex workers was 57.7%;

HIV prevalence among gay men was 26.8%;

HIV prevalence among black African women aged 15 - 49 was 26.3%.

HIV Incidence

The HIV incidence is the number of new HIV infections in a population during a certain time period. The following table is of the annual HIV incidence as a percentage.


HIV Statistics for South Africa - Sources of Data

The data above mainly comes from the UNAIDS organisation. UNAIDS uses the Thembisa model to put together data from a number of different sources.

A number of different mathematical models have been developed to describe different aspects of the South African HIV epidemic. The Thembisa model was developed to put together four previously developed models, each of which had different strengths & limitations. The data input to the Thembisa model includes data from the latest 2017 HIV survey.

Collecting HIV survey statistics in South Africa

Collecting HIV survey statistics in South Africa

HIV Statistics for South Africa - Prevalence in 2017

The best estimate of prevalence comes, not by modelling, but from surveys. But because of the cost these are only carried out every few years.

The fifth South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behavior and Communication Survey, carried out in 2017 provided a wealth of information about prevalence differences by sex and race, by age, by province and for important populations.6The Fifth South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey, 2017, HSRC,

HIV Prevalence (%) - by sex and race

There is considerable variation in the prevalence rates between the different races.

RaceBlack AfricanWhiteColouredIndian/Asian

HIV Prevalence (%) - by sex and age

There is considerable variation in the prevalence rates between women and men. HIV prevalence among adults aged 15 to 49 years is 20.6%, 26.3% among females and 14.8 % among males.

The disparity in HIV prevalence by sex is most pronounced among young adults. HIV prevalence among 20 to 24 years olds, is 3 times higher among females (15.6%) than males (4.8%).

The highest prevalence is among women aged 35-39 where the prevalence is an astonishing 39.4%.


HIV Prevalence (%) - by province

In 2017 the prevalence of HIV in the different South African provinces was:

  • Eastern Cape 25.2%
  • Free State 25.5%
  • Gauteng 17.6%
  • KwaZulu-Natal 27.0%
  • Limpopo 17.2%
  • Mpumalanga 22.8%
  • Northern Cape 13.9%
  • North West 22.7%
  • Western Cape 12.6%

In some communities of KwaZulu-Natal sixty per cent of women have HIV.7Sara M. Allinder, the World's Largest HIV Epidemic in Crisis: HIV in South Africa, 2019,

HIV Statistics for South Africa - Male Circumcision Prevalence by Age

Overall 31.8% of males aged 15-64 years old reported being medically circumcised. Forty three per cent of males aged 15-24 were medically circumcised while those males aged 0-14 years old and 55-64 had the lowest prevalence of medical circumcision at 12.0 and 21.8 per cent respectively. Of the 13.4 per cent of circumcised males aged 0-14 years 89.9% were medically circumcised.

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