So I freaked out a couple weeks ago when the statistic came out that “28% of South African school girls are infected with HIV”:

The good news is, this statistic is WRONG:

Media get it wrong on SA schoolgirls’ HIV statistics

Last week the Mail & Guardian used a South African Press Association (Sapa) article on its site incorrectly stating that 28% of South Africa’s schoolgirls were infected by HIV, compared with 4% of schoolboys.

But the fact-checking organisation, Africa Check, reported that Motsoaledi’s speech at a “taking Parliament to the people event” in Carolina in Mpumalanga was misinterpreted by a Sowetan journalist and was then re-reported by other news companies and agencies.

Oh thank god. 28% of girls infected? My brain couldnt handle that.

Yeah, now for the bad news– The 28% figure wasnt right for all of South Africa. It was right for a specific group of school kids in South Africa.

Motsoaledi said on Friday the statistics that were incorrectly quoted were on an HIV testing and counselling campaign, which actually found a small number of schools in the Natal Midlands were particularly hard-hit by HIV. Of the group of children tested there, 28% of girls were infected by the disease compared to 4% of boys.

Uuuuuuugh *headinhands*  Uuuuuugh. Dammit.

Theres also this:

Media mis-reporting HIV rate among SA schoolgirls. True rate is 12.7 percent

The most recent statistics, compiled as part of a 2011 HIV and syphilis survey, which was published last year by the Department of Health, indicate that HIV prevalence among young women aged between 15 and 19 was around 12.7% in 2011, a decrease on the previous year’s figure of 14%.

This is less than half the figure in the Sowetan’s headline.

It is even less than the figure (20.5%) for HIV prevalence among pregnant women aged 15-24, a population group who are always likely to have a higher prevalence rate than all schoolgirls, for obvious reasons.

Uuuuugh. Uuuuugh the ‘real’ stats dont make me feel any better. Dammit. Uuuuuuuugh…


  1. #1 Alf
    March 31, 2013

    What a joke, prevalence rates down to fractions of a percent. Wouldn’t trust any figures put out by an SA government department.

  2. #2 Mu
    April 1, 2013

    True, it’s much safer to trust an unsourced statement on the internet.

  3. #3 Divalent
    April 1, 2013

    The actual numbers are sadly sobering. On out of 8 kids. 🙁

  4. #4 Bill
    May 2, 2013

    Sorry, Divalent– but your “one out of 8 kids” math appears to be incorrect.
    Nearly 1 in 8 females (age 15 to 24) not “kids” overall.

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