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DURBAN – Fifty-eight thousand teachers across the country are living with HIV – and there are eight new infections a day, according to new research released on Wednesday.

There were 2 900 new infections in the sector in 2015, the year of the study by the Human Sciences Research Council, which equated to the eight new HIV infections every day, said the lead investigator, Professor Khangelani Zuma.

“They are the scariest figures and this should not be happening, because educators are supposed to be more knowledgeable and you would expect them to know about HIV prevention,” he said ahead of the release of the survey findings, at the South African Aids Conference at the Durban ICC.

The research, commissioned by the Department of Basic Education, is the second that has been carried out to investigate the HIV-related profile of teachers and school leadership, and the number of people living with HIV turned out to be higher than at the time of the first survey in 2004.

“The overall HIV prevalence among educators was 15.3%, translating to about 58000 educators living with HIV in 2015. This was higher than in the 2004 survey (which was 12.7%),” the study said.

This increase was partly due to the fact that people were now on antiretroviral treatments and therefore living longer, “which was a good thing”, Zuma said.

However, people were still getting infected. Among the estimated 58000 teachers living with HIV, 55.7% were taking antiretroviral drugs.

The national average HIV incidence rate in 2015 was 0.84% (which translated to the 2900 new infections) and both KwaZulu-Natal (2.05%) and the Eastern Cape (1.23%) had rates higher than the average.

The survey was conducted in 1380 primary, secondary, combined and intermediate schools, and 21500 teachers were interviewed.

The HIV prevalence was significantly higher among women teachers, compared to their male counterparts (16.4% compared to 12.7%) with the prevalence peak being in the 34-44 year age group, compared to the 25-34 year age group in the 2004 survey.

Most teachers reported having one sexual partner in the previous 12 months and 10.1% said that they had two or more partners. More male teachers said they had two or more partners than the women teachers.


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