Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death among South Africans, according to data released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on Tuesday. The Mortality and Causes of Death Report shows that HIV has risen to become the third leading cause of death in the country. It was in sixth position in 2012. But Statistician General Pali Lehohla said the rise was because recording deaths from HIV had improved, not because it was actually an increasing cause of death. Lehohla said Stats SA and the Medical Research Council had helped to train doctors in cause-of-death-certifcation, which had resulted in more accurate reporting.

The report is based on data collected by the Department of Home Affairs through the death registration system. The data comes as South Africa commemorated World Aids Day on 1 December. About 6.4-million South Africans are living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Human Sciences Research Council. “The number of people that are dying in South Africa has declined … over time,” Lehohla said.

The report found that 458&933 people died in 2013 – 6.5% down from 491 100 deaths recorded in 2012. It is the lowest number of deaths since 2002, when 502 797 deaths were registered. The report found that more males were affected by HIV than females in 2013. In 2013, the majority of deaths resulted from the main group of certain infectious and parasitic diseases (22,6%), followed by diseases of the circulatory system (16,7%).

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