Wednesday, October 08, 2003

South Africa: 20% of soldiers HIV +ve

South Africa's defence minister, Mosiuoa Lekota, dismissed the idea that the HIV infection rates in the military are any cause for alarm. He said that 20% to 22% of the country's soldiers are HIV positive -- which is the same rate/percentage as in the general population.
The SANDF does not recruit people with what he termed “the condition”. Those who contract HIV later are deployed according to their abilities. Those who develop full-blown Aids will be looked after by their employer, Lekota added.
This isn't a new story. We've known for a while that the HIV rate in the military is high. It's the minister's reaction/analysis which is interesting. This AP story has the ubiquitous Jane's quote ...
Helmoed Heitman, an analyst for Jane's Defense Weekly, said the rate of infection could have serious consequences for the military since troops with weakened immune systems couldn't be deployed to places in Africa where they would be exposed to many different diseases.