Husbands a 'big problem' in HIV transmission

30 November 2011 - 02:18
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi
Image: HALDEN KROG Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi

Unfaithful husbands are to blame for the upward trend of HIV prevalence among older women, says Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

Although young people have more power to negotiate condom use with their sexual partners and are better protected from HIV, Motsoaledi said "in the married couples it is men who are causing these problems".

National HIV prevalence survey results from 2010, released by the Department of Health in Pretoria yesterday - two days before World Aids Day - showed an increase in prevalence among older women, most noticeable in the 45 to 49-year-old age group.

The survey, which sampled over 32000 pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in October last year, found that HIV prevalence has remained steady at 21.8% for 15- to 24-year-olds and at 37.3% for 25- to 29-year-olds since 2008.

Motsoaledi said that, although the whole country knew the "A, B, C" motto to "abstain, be faithful and condomise", the country needed to "revisit that message".

"Condoms are working. The question is faithfulness," he said.

"We need to target the elder age groups, the married couples. The married couples are a big problem," the minister said. He suggested that his ministry needed to "target the men".

"We know that they've been very stubborn [about using condoms] ."

Motsoaledi suggested scaling up HIV counselling campaigns for men coupled with mass circumcision campaigns.

Despite the country needing to double its antiretroviral coverage by 2015, Motsoaledi said South Africa had "reached a period of stability".

South Africa's national HIV prevalence for 2010 (30.2%) was the same as the figure recorded in 2005 and a minor increase from 2009 (29.4%).

Lovelife CEO Grace Matlhape said that, although she had hoped for "significant declines in all age categories", there was "some measure of comfort that young people are much more responsive to the [awareness] initiatives".



  • 30- to 34-year-olds: 42.6% (40.4% in 2008)
  • 35-39-year-olds: 38.4% (32.4% in 2008)
  • 40-44-year-olds: 30.9% (23.3% in 2008)
  • 45-49-year-olds: 28.2% (17.6% in 2008, 23.9% in 2009)


  • KwaZulu-Natal: 39.5%
  • Mpumalanga: 35.1%
  • Free State: 30.6%
  • Gauteng: 30.4%
  • Eastern Cape: 29.9%
  • North West: 29.5%
  • Limpopo 21.9%
  • Western Cape: 18.5%
  • Northern Cape: 18.4%
  • The Umgungundlovu and Ilembe district in KwaZulu-Natal has an HIV prevalence of 42.3% - the worst in the country; and
  • The Central Karoo district in the Western Cape has the lowest HIV prevalence at 8.5%.