Swaziland study shows death rate has doubled in African kingdom with world's highest HIV rate

MBABANE, Swaziland (AP) — Swaziland's death rate more than doubled in a decade, proof of the toll of AIDS, statisticians in this southern African kingdom said Wednesday.

Nombulelo Dlamini of the Central Statistical Office discussed a new study comparing censuses in 1997 and 2007 in an interview on Wednesday. The study shows that in 1997, the death rate was 7.6 people in 1,000. By 2007, it was 18.03 per 1,000 people. Life expectancy over the period decreased from 60 to 43 years.

"HIV and AIDS has killed many of our people," Dlamini said.

She added that without the rollout of AIDS therapy drugs, "deaths in the nation would be reaching alarming proportions."

Infant and under-five mortality death rates also increased during the 10-year period. About 107 in 1,000 babies die in their first year, according to the 2007 census. In 1997 it was 78. Among children under 5, the death rate was about 167 in 1,000 in 2007, compared to 106 in 1997.

The U.N. says the prevalence in Swaziland of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is nearly 40 percent, the highest in the world. Swaziland neighbors South Africa, which has an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV, more than any other country.