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AIDS is a disease we know how to prevent. Period. And yet, each day approximately 2,100 people will lose their lives to AIDS and about another 4,600 will become newly diagnosed with HIV.1

million people

have been diagnosed with HIV since the start of epidemic

million people

have died from AIDS-related causes since the start of the epidemic

million people

are currently living with HIV worldwide


are unaware they are living with the virus2


Two-thirds of the global HIV positive population lives in Southern Africa. This means that there are currently an estimated 26 million people living with HIV in this region alone.

South Africa epidemic:
Nearly 4,600 South Africans are newly diagnosed every week.3
One-third are adolescent girls/young women (AGYW) aged 15-24.45

Among adults aged 15-49 years in South Africa, about 1 in 5 are living with HIV.6

South Africa represents less than 1% of the world’s population, but 20% of the global HIV population.78910


Of all new HIV diagnoses occurring among adolescents in Southern Africa, 80% are in girls aged 15–19 years.11

Adolescent girls and young women are also twice as likely to be living with HIV than young men of the same age.12

Of the 1.6 million adolescents living with HIV worldwide, about 89% live in Southern Africa.13

  1.  UNAIDS Fact Sheet 2019.
  2.  UNAIDS.AIDSinfo
  3.  UNAIDS South Africa Country data (2018).
  4.  Allinder, Sara M., Center for Strategic & International Studies, The World’s Largest HIV Epidemic in Crisis: HIV in South Africa, April 2, 2019.
  5.  UNAIDS South Africa Country data (2018).
  6. (2019).
  7. (2020).
  8. (2019).
  9.  UNAIDS Fact Sheet 2019.
  10., P0302 (2019).
  11.  Karim, Salim S. Abdool and Cheryl Baxter. “HIV incidence rates in adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa.” The Lancet, Vol 7:11, Nov 1, 2019.
  12.  UNAIDS South Africa Country data (2018).
  13. Unicef, HIV and AIDS in Adolescents (2018).


The South African education system is characterized by poor outcomes, despite the fact that the nation spends a comparable amount of its GDP (6%) on education as the United States.[1] From deteriorating infrastructure and high dropout rates, to unequal access to resources, learners face great difficulties in completing their schooling. Aside from the many challenges experienced by those living in extreme poverty, many South African youth face the additional burden of high rates of teacher absenteeism, drug and alcohol abuse, rape, and teenage pregnancy. It is reported that just under half of those who enter Grade 1, go on to graduate from high school.[2] Even fewer of these youth qualify for university, leaving them with limited options to participate in the formal economy – an immeasurable loss to the nation’s future.


  • Currently in South Africa, of 100 learners that enter Grade 1, 50-60 will make it to 12thgrade, 40-50 will pass, and only 14 will to go to university.[3]
  • Almost half of those who start university in South Africa, drop out before completing their degree.[4]
  • For those South Africans who are able to access university, there still exist extreme inequalities across race groups. An estimated 8.8% of black students complete their degree programs, compared with a rate of 42.5% amongst white students.[5]
  • Young women in South Africa are 29% less likely to contract HIV if they have tertiary education.[6]

Despite this, South Africa’s youth are vibrant and resilient, emerging as community change-makers despite huge social, economic, educational, structural, and cultural barriers.

  1. NCES > The Condition of Education > Education Expenditures by Country
  2. Nic Spaull. “South Africa’s Education Crisis, The quality of education in South Africa 1994­-2011”
  3. Nic Spaull.“Priorities for Education Reform (Background Note for Minister of Finance)” 19/01/2019.
  5. Hendrik van Broekhuizen, Servaas van der Berg, and Heleen Hofmeyr. FROM MATRIC INTO AND THROUGH UNIVERSITY – Higher Education access and outcomes in South Africa
  6. Musawenkosi Mabaso, Zinhle Sokhela, Neo Mohlabane, Buyisile Chibi, Khangelani Zuma & Leickness Simbayi . Determinants of HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women aged 15–24 years in South Africa: a 2012 population-based national household survey