>>Figures in South Africa
The Establishment of the Mellon HIV/AIDS NodeIn 1997 the University of Natal initiated a Population and Poverty Studies Programme with an objective to create a centre of excellence for population studies in South Africa. Following full discussions with Drs Carolyn Makinson and Stuart Saunders of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and key members at some South African institutions- in particular those at the universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand and Natal, a proposal which motivated for the establishment of a ‘Node’ in HIV/AIDS and Population Studies at the former University of Natal was written and submitted to the Foundation. Particular emphasis of this node was to stimulate research on HIV/AIDS and strengthen Population Studies in Southern Africa. The Node was established in line with the aims of the foundation which include:
Rational for the establishment of the NodeThe establishment of the HIV/AIDS Node corresponds to the reported levels of HIV/AIDS within the region. The tragic magnitude and spread of HIV infection, both worldwide and in South Africa are well known. To note, by mid 2000, 34.3 million people were living with HIV across the globe and over 18 million had died of the disease. Ninety-five percent of those were in developing countries where rampant poverty, severely limited national recourses and, in particular, poor health delivery systems result in poor access to HIV prevention services and to all health care. Sub-Saharan Africa has been the worst hit with 24.5 million infections by the year 2000. In other wards, almost one in ten adults between the ages of 15 and 49 were already living with the disease in the region.
The impact has not, however, been uniform. Indications are that the epidemic has been far worse in the southern part of the continent. The disease is rapidly coming to kill more people than any other cause of death on the continent. Even if the epidemic was to plateau, and/ or behavioural interventions prove even marginally successful in the near future, mortality will continue to rise as a result of existing infections taking their course. In most of these countries, the benefit of treatment in promoting the quality of life of the majority of people living with AIDS, and of lengthening their life expectancy, is likely to be severely limited.