The population of South Africa would be over 4.4 million more than it is today if it were not for the HIV/AIDS epidemic. So says the South African Institute of Race Relations in its latest South Africa Survey, published this week in Johannesburg.

Currently, there are 50.6 million people in the country. In the absence of AIDS, this would have been 55.0 million. By 2040 the population would have been 77.5 million without AIDS — 24.1 million more people than is projected.

The data shows that 31% of all deaths in 2011 were AIDS related. By 2015, this proportion will have risen to 33%. In 2025, there will be 121% more AIDS deaths than there were in 2000.

The total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in 2015 (6 million) will be double the number recorded in 2000 (3 million). The Institute’s analysis is based on data sourced from the Actuarial Society of South Africa and the Institute for Futures Research (IFR).

According to the IFR, the HIV prevalence rate is higher among young African adults, resulting in fewer people in this group reaching old age compared to other races.

Mr Thuthukani Ndebele, a researcher at the Institute, said that HIV/AIDS has resulted in a significantly slower population growth rate, among other things.

“Not only does HIV/AIDS reduce life expectancy and increase mortality, but it is largely responsible for wider social ills such as orphanhood and child-headed households”, Ndebele said.

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