Daily Mail and Guardian (SA) 16 Sep. 2001

AIDS has become the biggest single killer of South Africans, the South African Medical Research Council reports in a study made public on Sunday. It calculates that 40% of the deaths last year of those aged between 15 and 49 were due to the pandemic.

The council predicts that about six million South Africans will have died of AIDS by 2010 if no effective treatement intervenes.

The council's report directly contradicts recent assertions made by President Thabo Mbeki questioning The report, summarised in the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times, is based on data from the health ministry's annual antenatal survey and the Acturial Society of South Africa's AIDS model.

It says deaths of young adults have increased rapidly since 1997, with most interpreted as having been caused by AIDS.

The council estimates that in the absence of effective counter-measures, the number of deaths among infants aged between one and five will triple, that AIDS deaths overall will rise to double the number of deaths from all other causes, and that population growth will be halted.

The Sunday Times said the report had not yet been officially released, but that it had obtained a copy of it and that top government officials had seen it.