HIV/Aids slashes average life expectancy to 51 years

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HIV and AIDS in S AfricaJOHANNESBURG - South Africa, which has the world's second heaviest caseload of HIV/Aids, has seen average life expectancy fall by 13 years since 1990 to 51, a new study shows.

A survey by the Medical Research Council and Actuarial Society of South Africa revealed that life expectancy this year was "estimated to be 49 years for males and 53 years for females" or an average of 51.

"By 2005, the HIV/Aids pandemic had already taken about 13 years off life expectancy," the report stated.

Researcher Debbie Bradshaw said life expectancy in South Africa in 1990 was 64 years, but had dropped to 51.

A new government plan hinging on prevention and treatment and aiming to change sexual behaviour among the youth, aims to reduce new infections by 2011. South Africa is second to |India as the country with the highest number of HIV-infected people.

About 5.5 million people, in a population of 47 million, are living with HIV or Aids.

"About 230 000 HIV-infected individuals were receiving antiretroviral treatment and a further 540 000 were sick with Aids but were not receiving treatment," researchers said.

source - Sapa-AFP