Child mortality and HIV infection in Africa: A review

Marie Louise Newell, Heena Brahmbhatt, Peter D. Ghys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Objectives: To review the available data relating to child mortality in Africa by the HIV infection status of mothers and children. Results: Child survival is influenced by the HIV epidemic through several mechanisms. Mother-to-child transmission of HIV ranges from 15 to 45%, with up to 15-20% resulting from breastfeeding. HIV-infected children have high mortality rates. For example, a recent community-based study in Rakai, Uganda, showed 2-year mortality rates of 547, 166 and 128 per thousand among HIV-infected children, HIV-negative children of HIV-positive mothers, and HIV-negative children of HIV-negative women, respectively. Child mortality estimates from community-based cohorts demonstrate that the children of HIV-infected mothers have higher mortality rates than the children of uninfected mothers, and that child mortality is closely linked with maternal health status, but because the proportion of vertically infected children is unknown, the value of these studies is limited. Models that use HIV surveillance data together with a set of assumptions indicate that child mortality caused by HIV/AIDS has increased throughout the 1990s to reach close to 10% by 2002. Conclusion: Both disparate trends in HIV prevalence and varying levels of non-HIV-associated child mortality will ensure very different impacts in different countries. To improve the projections of the overall effect that the HIV epidemic will have on child mortality at the population level in countries with generalized epidemics, reliable age-specific mortality rates in infected and uninfected children are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004


  • Africa
  • Breastfeeding
  • Child mortality
  • Models
  • Timing of acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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