In South Africa, the number of new HIV infections is on the decline. The newly-released South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour, and Communications Survey, 2017 is the fifth wave of a series of cross-sectional surveys on HIV/AIDS in the country, and offers a comprehensive look at how HIV/AIDS affects the population. According to the study, the HIV incidence rate–or the rate of new infections–declined by an impressive 44%, from 0.85% in 2012 to 0.48% in 2017. The incidence rate was highest among females aged 15-24. The overall decrease in incidence suggests that progress is being made in antiretroviral treatment (ART) coverage. Contraceptive use and increased HIV education may have also contributed to the change. The survey also found that over 60 percent of South Africans living with HIV, an estimated 4.4 million people, were on ART in 2017. In addition, viral suppression was 87.3% among people living with HIV who were on ART.
Overall, approximately 7.9 million South Africans were living with HIV in 2017, with higher rates of HIV prevalence among females than males. The study also found low levels of consistent condom use and a trend of early sexual debut, suggesting a need for further behavioral interventions.