SAPA 11 July 2000

Pretoria -- The Home Affairs Department has denied blaming HIV/AIDS for a significant rise in the number of deaths of South Africans younger than 50 over the past 10 years.

"Statistics South Africa confirms that South African adults overwhelmingly die of accidents and violence," the department said in a statement.

"The profile of deaths can therefore not singly be due to HIV/AIDS."

According to a Sunday newspaper, figures provided by the department show that the number of people dying under 50 has almost doubled between 1990 and last year.

The paper attributed the increase directly to HIV/AIDS.

The department said it did not conclude that the deaths could be attributed to the effect of HIV/AIDS.

"The department is merely responsible for recording deaths, and determining trends falls outside the ambit of the functions of the department."

The two sets of figures for 1990 and 1999 quoted in the report cannot be compared directly due to different sources, the statement said.

The 1990 figures were provided by Statistics SA and exclude the deaths of people of the former TBVC countries, while the department's 1999 figures reflected the total number of deaths in South Africa in that year.

Although the department is fully aware of the serious nature of the AIDS pandemic in South Africa, panic should not be created among members of the public through selective, and sometimes incorrect, use of statistics, the statement said.