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At a glance: HIV in South Africa

The biggest HIV epidemic in the world

Key statistics: 2022

  • 7.6 million people with HIV
  • 17.8% adult HIV prevalence
  • 160,000 new HIV infections
  • 45,000 AIDS-related deaths
  • 5.7 million people on antiretroviral treatment

Progress towards targets

The current targets for HIV testing and treatment are called the 95-95-95 targets and must be reached by 2025 in order to end AIDS by 2030.

In 2022 in South Africa:

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Did you know?

South Africa has made huge improvements in getting people to test for HIV in recent years and met the 2020 target of 90% of people with HIV knowing their status in 2018. Although it is increasing the number of people on HIV treatment each year, it remains behind target, hampered by the need to provide HIV treatment for more people than any other country in the world. This means around 2 million people with HIV are still not receiving the lifesaving treatment they need.


Preventing HIV in South Africa focuses on:

Did you know?

South Africa was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to fully approve PrEP, and oral PrEP is now being made available to people at high risk of infection, such as sex workers. The country has remained focused on increasing PrEP access in recent years by introducing things such as mobile PrEP clinics. Data from PrePWatch released in 2024 estimates that 1.3 million people in South Africa are using PrEP.


Testing for HIV is lower among:

  • men
  • people with a lower socio-economic background
  • people living in rural areas.

Did you know?

It is possible to self-test for HIV at home in South Africa, which is popular among young people and people from key affected populations.


Treatment for HIV is:

  • free 
  • started as soon as someone tests positive 
  • usually a three-in-one tablet (a Dolutegravir-containing fixed dose combination)
  • given as a multi-month prescription (usually six months if someone is stable on treatment)
  • received by more people with HIV than any other country in the world.

Did you know?

Men are far less likely than women to test for HIV and be on HIV treatment. In 2022, only 68% of men with HIV were estimated to be on ART compared to 80% of women. This is helping to drive infections, particularly among young women. 

Local context

Women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of the HIV epidemic, with women twice as likely to have HIV than men. Around one-third of women are likely to experience intimate partner violence in South Africa – and this has increased in recent years, linked to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Violence against women and girls is a huge issue, and can prevent women from testing for HIV and starting and staying on treatment. It also helps drive transmission.

Young people (ages 15-24) are at heightened risk of getting HIV. In 2022, around one-third of all new infections were among young people.

It is estimated that around 58% of sex workers have HIV. Female sex workers with HIV are consistently less likely to know their HIV status than other adult women.

Gay men and other men who have sex with men with HIV are much less likely to know their HIV status compared with other men. However, when they do know their HIV status, they are more likely to receive HIV treatment and be virally suppressed.

HIV-related stigma remains an issue – around 17% of people hold discriminatory attitudes towards people with HIV, according to UNAIDS data. But this is lower compared to other countries in the region.

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  • Last updated: 25 April 2024
  • Last full review: 25 April 2024
  • Next full review: 25 April 2027
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