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HIV Infection Surge Expected for South Africa

HIV Infection Surge Expected for South Africa

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Five million more people will become infected with HIV in South Africa over the next 20 years even if the nation doubles the billions it already spends on treatment and prevention, according to a report presented Friday.

Nearly 6 million people in South Africa today are HIV-positive, more than in any other nation, and the report says the country will need to spend about $102 billion just to keep the number of projected new infections at 5 million over the next two decades, according to The New York Times. Many blame years of misguided and ill-informed policy for the predicament faced by the African continent's leading economy, home to 49 million residents.

"Actually, South Africa is in the midst of a rapid expansion of its AIDS programs, attempting to overcome years of denial and delay when former President Thabo Mbeki questioned whether H.I.V. caused AIDS," reports the Times. "He suggested that antiretroviral drugs were harmful, and his health minister recommended remedies of beet root and garlic."

According to the study, the government needs to step up treatment, counseling, and testing efforts by focusing on the benefits of male circumcision and promoting condom use.

The new study, called "The Long-Run Costs and Financing of H.I.V./AIDS in South Africa," was conducted by the Center for Economic Governance and AIDS in Africa, based in Cape Town, and the Results for Development Institute, based in Washington. The groups presented the study to the South African National AIDS Council, the country's leading AIDS policy advisory panel.

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