News 24, Half of SA patients HIV+, 31 January 2004

Johannesburg - Nearly half of all patients in state hospitals in South Africa are HIV positive, the Saturday Star newspaper reported, quoting a secret report for the country's health department.

"This figure is among the alarming findings in a report titled The impact of HIV/Aids on the health sector, published last year, but kept under wraps," the paper said.

"In public hospitals about 46 percent of patients were HIV-positive," the Saturday Star quoted the report as saying.

The report was leaked to the paper and was based on an in-depth study during 2002 under the direction of Olive Shisana, executive director of the Human Sciences Research Council's programme on the social aspects of HIV/Aids.

"Aspects of the report's finding were discussed at least year's Aids conference (in Durban), but the government has so far refused to release the full 175-page report," the paper said.

Crowding out

"The research has found that Aids patients have started "crowding out" other patients from hospitals as the impact of Aids is increasingly taking its toll on both health workers and health facilities."

About 5.3 million South Africans in a population of 44.8 million are infected with HIV or Aids, a higher number than any other country.

"The finding that almost half of the patients admitted to hospital are HIV infected, demonstrates the massive increase in the burden placed on health care facilities," the Saturday Star said.

"This meant that almost half the usual number of beds were no longer available to other patients."

In addition, HIV-positive or Aids patients tended to stay in hospital for an average of 13.7 days, compared to 8.2 days for HIV-negative patients.

The report warned the government to train more nurses, as up to 16 percent of health workers were likely to die from Aids between 2002 and 2007, while about 29 percent of all deaths of health workers were attributable to Aids.







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