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At least six million South Africans could be infected with HIV or Aids within the next 10 years, a recent study has found.
The LoveLife research concluded that about 4-million people were infected by the end of last year. Between 5,3 million and 6,1 million would suffer from HIV/ Aids by 2005, and 6 million to 7,5 million by 2010.
"About 15 percent of all South African adults aged 20 to 64 are infected, and these levels could rise to 20 to 23 percent by 2005, and 22 to 27 percent by 2010," said the report, titled Impending Catastrophe Revised.
According to estimates from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids and the World Health Organisation, 34,7 million adults and 1,4 million children were living with HIV worldwide by December last year.
In South Africa, almost 25 percent of women aged between 15 and 19 would become infected between 1995 and 2010, while only 5 percent of men in that age group would fall victim to the virus, the LoveLife report said.
More than 15 percent of women and about 14,5 percent of men between the ages of 20 and 24 would be infected.
"Women are heavily affected by the epidemic. They are at greater risk of infection due to biological, social and economic factors, and are also more vulnerable to socio-economic impacts," the report said.
By 2005 there were expected to be about one million Aids orphans under the age of 15 in SA, rising to 2,5 million in 2010. The majority of these orphans would be children over the age of 4.
Aids deaths were projected to rise from 120 000 a year in 2000 to between 354 000 and 383 000 in 2005. It could increase to between 545 000 and 635 000 deaths in 2010.
Other sources suggested that Aids might result in 800 000 deaths in 2010. Nationwide the percentage of the adult population dying from Aids would reach between 2 percent and 2,6 percent by 2010.
"Reports indicate that information garnered from death certificates suggests that already half of all adult deaths can be attributed to Aids. While these reports need to be verified, it is clear that the impact of this epidemic is already being felt."
A 15 percent increase in condom use would result in a decrease of 150 000 HIV/Aids cases among people aged between 20 and 25 by 2015, the report added. - Sapa