01.02.02. Prevalence and burden of significant communicable diseases or conditions | South Africa

01.02.02. Prevalence and burden of significant communicable diseases or conditions | South Africa

12 Aug 2022

In 2018 an estimated 7.52 million people were living with HIV in South Africa, with 18.99% of adults between the ages of 15 and 49 being infected, and 22.32% of women (StatsSA, 2018d).

In 2015, HIV/AIDS (1 365 000) and TB (849 000) were identified as the country’s two leading causes of YLLs to premature mortality (Groenewald et al., 2017). The table below ranks the top ten causes of YLLs, including both communicable and non-communicable diseases or conditions:

Table 5: Top ten causes of years of life lost (YLLs) for South Africa, 2015

Rank Cause of death Total (in thousands)
1 HIV/AIDS 1,365
2 TB 846
3 Lower respiratory infections 581
4 Cerebrovascular disease 442
5 Ischaemic heart disease 333
6 Diarrhoeal diseases 306
7 Diabetes mellitus 272
8 Interpersonal violence 266
9 Road injuries 228
10 Accidental gunshot 221

Source: Adapted from Groenewald et al., (2017), p.214

South Africa has seen an increase in the burden of HIV/AIDS and TB and other communicable diseases, perinatal, maternal and nutritional conditions (i.e., comm/mat/peri/nutr) from 37.8% in 1997 to 62.1% in 2006 (Groenewald et al., 2017). However, for 2015 there has been a decline (45.4%) in HIV/AIDS, TB and Comm/mat/peri/nutr and this is attributed largely to an increase in the burden of non-communicable diseases (i.e., from 29% in 2006 to 40% in 2015). Despite these gains, the increase of cases of multiple drug resistant, TB (MDR-TB) has placed strain on the health system to cope, with rates for TB alone increasing from 3.2% total DALYs in 2010 to 3.7% in 2015 (EMERALD, 2017).


EMERALD. (2017). Moving towards Universal Health Coverage for Mental Disorders in South Africa.

Groenewald, P., Bradshaw, D., Day, C., & Laubscher, R. (2017). 14 Burden of disease. October 2012, 206–226. Availabe from: https://www.hst.org.za/publications/District%20Health%20Barometers/14%20(Section%20A)%20Burden%20of%20Disease.pdf

StatsSA. (2018d). Quarterly Labour Force Survey. Available from: https://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=11882