HIV PREVALENCE AMONG SOUTH AFRICAN EDUCATORS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Key finding: Overall, 12.7% of all educators are HIV positive. HIV prevalence is the highest in the 25-34 age group (21.4%), followed by the 35-44 age group, (12.8%). Those educators 55 years and older had the lowest HIV prevalence (3.1%). There are major racial differences in HIV prevalence: Africans have a prevalence of 16.3% compared to whites, coloureds and Indians, whose HIVinfection rates are less than 1%.
The results show that 12.7% of 17 088 educators who gave specimens for testing are HIV positive, which is similar to that of the general population. Male and female educators have the same HIV prevalence if age and race differences are not taken into account.
HIV prevalence is the highest in the 25-34 age group (21.4%), followed by the 35-44 age group (12.8%). Those educators 55 years and older had the lowest HIV prevalence (3.1%).
If the analysis is restricted to men and women in the 25-34 age group, differences become more pronounced. The HIV-infection rate in women is higher than in men, as women are generally more vulnerable to HIV infection because of their biological make-up and low socio-economic status.
There are also major racial differences in HIV prevalence: Africans have a prevalence of 16.3% compared to whites, coloureds and Indians, who have a prevalence of less than 1%The differences in age distribution among the different racial groups may partially account for the higher HIV prevalence among African educators, as there is a higher concentration of African educators in the high HIV risk age group of 25-34 than in other race groups.
Africans are also more likely to find themselves in a lower socio-economic position than other race groups, the result of a history of inferior education under the apartheid system. Educators with a low socio-economic status have a much higher HIV prevalence than those in the high socio-economic group, and educators living and working in rural areas have a higher HIV prevalence than their colleagues living and teaching in urban schools. Educators working in schools located in urban formal settlements have a significantly lower HIV prevalence (6.3%) than those working in urban informal settlement (13.9%) and rural areas (16.8%).
Educators in poorer rural areas fall in the high-income group by local standards, suggesting that income may be an additional risk factor.
In assessing the different types of institutions, the study finds that HIV prevalence is highest in combined schools (16.5%). The primary and secondary schools also have a high prevalence rate (slightly more than 12%).
The study also found significant differences in the HIV prevalence by province. Educators employed in Kwazulu-Natal and Mpumalanga have the highest HIV prevalence (more than 19%) of all nine provinces, followed by the Eastern Cape, Free State and North West (more than 10%, but under 19%). The provinces with HIV prevalence under 10% were Limpopo, Gauteng and Northern Cape. Western Cape had the lowest HIV prevalence at 1.1%.
Part of the objective of this study is to estimate the HIV prevalence of educators by district for planning educator supply at a local level. In Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape, 11 out of 54 districts have HIV prevalence rates of higher than 20%. Of these, eight are in KwazuluNatal. The lowest HIV prevalence among teachers by district (less than 5%) is in 11 districts in the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Gauteng.
Table 4,11: Overall HIV prevalence among educators by province, South Africa 2004
Province N HIV positive (percentage) 95% CI
WC 2 134 1.1 0.6-2.0
EC 1 855 13.8 12.0-15.8
NC 891 4.3 2.9-6.5
FS 1152 12.4 10.1-15.0
KZN 3 627 21.8 19.8-23.9
NW 1 437 10.4 8.7-12.4
GP 2 772 6.4 5.4-7.7
MP 1 315 19.1 16.2-22.3
LP 1 905 8.6 7.3-10.1
Determinants of HIV/AIDS
The epidemic seems to be driven by multiple sexual partnership (particularly among men), low condom use, having sexual partners who are younger (among men), migration and mobility (spending nights away from home). Gaps in knowledge of HIV transmission exist; specifically in the areas of oral sex, breast feeding, and incorrect information on sneezing.
DoE, working with unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), should develop HIV prevention programmes targeted at educators, considering the following: