S.Africa: HIV deaths, infections down since 2007

By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG (AA) AIDS-related deaths in South Africa have fallen consistently since 2007, says a new government report.

The number of deaths dropped from over 267,000 in 2007 to nearly 127,000 this year, South Africa's statistics institution said on Monday in its mid-year population estimates report.

Access to antiretroviral (ART) drugs has extended the lifespan of many South Africans, reducing HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths, added the report.

In the early 2000s, the disease killed a high number of people in the country, while the South African government was in denial that HIV caused AIDS.

In 2008, the new administration led by then-President Jacob Zuma embarked on a massive anti-AIDS campaign, rolling out a large HIV treatment program that enabled millions of sick South Africans access to life-saving ART therapy.

South Africa has one of the largest HIV/AIDS crisis in the world with some 7.97 million people infected by the virus, around 13.5% of 58 million population of the country, according to the estimates.