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AIDS May Have Peaked in South Africa

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PRETORIA, South Africa, Oct 21, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- New research indicates South Africa's AIDS epidemic may have peaked.

Researchers are suggesting a less bleak picture than have previous studies conducted in South Africa, which has more people suffering with HIV/AIDS than any other nation in the world.

New Scientist magazine said the new study suggests South Africa's AIDS epidemic likely peaked last year, when 4.7 million of that country's 45 million people had the deadly disease.

Independent U.S. researcher Thomas Rehle and Olive Shisana of South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council, told New Scientist the epidemic may now level off. The prediction is based on an epidemiological model developed using data from HIV surveys of South Africa's ante-natal clinics.

They estimate the annual number of AIDS-related South African deaths will rise to a peak of about 487,000 in 2008 and then fall to 470,000 by 2010. A previous USAID report predicted more than 900,000 deaths annually by 2010, with 38 percent of South Africa's sexually active adult population being HIV positive.

The researchers said the change may be the result of education and prevention programs, as well as the fact that death is reducing the number of HIV-positive people.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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