Data_Sheet_1_Multimorbidity Patterns in a National HIV Survey of South African Youth and Adults.docx (676.08 kB)
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Data_Sheet_1_Multimorbidity Patterns in a National HIV Survey of South African Youth and Adults.docx

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posted on 04.04.2022, 04:32 by Rifqah Abeeda Roomaney, Brian van Wyk, Annibale Cois, Victoria Pillay-van Wyk

Information pertaining to multimorbidity is frequently informed by studies from high income countries and it is unclear how these findings relate to low and middle income countries, where the burden of infectious disease is high. South Africa has a quadruple burden of disease which includes a high HIV prevalence and a growing burden of non-communicable diseases. This study aimed to analyse the prevalence and patterns (disease classes or clusters) of multimorbidity in South Africa.


A secondary analysis of individuals over the age of 15 years who participated in the Fifth South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behavior and Communication Survey, 2017 (SABSSM 2017) was done. Six disease conditions were identified in the analysis (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension/high blood pressure, tuberculosis, and HIV). Chi-square tests were used to test for the differences in disease prevalence by sex. Common disease patterns were identified using a latent class analysis.


The sample included 27,896 participants, of which 1,837 had comorbidity or multimorbidity. When taking population-weighting into account, multimorbidity was present in 5.9% (95% CI: 5.4–6.4) of the population The prevalence of multimorbidity tended to be higher among females and increased with age, reaching 21.9% in the oldest age group (70+). The analyses identified seven distinct disease classes in the population. The largest class was “Diabetes and Hypertension” (36.3%), followed by “HIV and Hypertension” (31.0%), and “Heart disease and Hypertension” (14.5%). The four smaller classes were: “HIV, Diabetes, and Heart disease” (6.9%), “TB and HIV” (6.3%), “Hypertension, TB, and Cancer” (2.8%), and “All diseases except HIV” (2.2%).


As the South African population continues to age, the prevalence of multimorbidity is likely to increase which will further impact the health care system. The prevalence of multimorbidity in the population was relatively low but reached up to 20% in the oldest age groups. The largest disease cluster was the combination of diabetes and hypertension; followed by HIV and hypertension. The gains in improving adherence to antiretrovirals amongst treatment-experienced people living with HIV, should be expanded to include compliance with lifestyle/behavioral modifications to blood pressure and glucose control, as well as adherence to anti-hypertension and anti-diabetic medication. There is an urgent need to improve the early diagnosis and treatment of disease in the South African population.