On Sunday 4 May, the Sunday Independent reported HIV statistics released by the Development Bank of South Africa. In particular, the report stated:
According to statistics released by the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), more than 7,6 million South Africans are HIV-positive - 2,2 million more than the department of health's figures for 2007 state.
Of these, about 6,1 million are the economically active people between the ages of 20 and 64, who could contribute to the country's economy.
What makes these statistics more alarming is the fact that the data on which they are based are probably more reliable than the department of health's because they were collected at grassroots level and not based on estimates.
We have examined the statistics sent by the DBSA's AIDS researcher to the Sunday Independent. Frankly, they are extremely suspicious and cannot be characterised as having been "collected at grassroots level and not based on estimates." They are certainly not more accurate than the Department of Health's statistics.
We have ascertained that this report cannot be ascribed only to poor journalism. The DBSA's researcher, Johan Calitz, needs to explain the following:
We note with concern that the Sunday Independent report has generated follow-up reports. Only confusion will arise from this. Until Calitz has answered these questions successfully, the statistics released by the DBSA to the Independent Group should be ignored.