The impact of HIV/AIDS on mortality and household mobility in rural Tanzania

AIDS. 2001 Oct 19;15(15):2017-23. doi: 10.1097/00002030-200110190-00015.


Objective: To assess the impact of the AIDS epidemic on mortality and household mobility before and after death.

Design: Open community cohort study with a demographic surveillance system and two sero-epidemiological surveys.

Methods: Ten rounds of demographic surveillance were completed during 1994-1998 in the study area, which has a population of about 20 000 people in a rural ward in north-west Tanzania. Households with deaths were visited for a detailed interview, including a verbal autopsy. Data on HIV status were collected in two surveys of all residents aged 15-44 years.

Results: Mortality rates among HIV-infected adults were 15 times higher than those among HIV-negative adults and HIV/AIDS was associated with nearly half of deaths at ages 15-44 years. Verbal autopsies without HIV test results considerably underestimated the proportion of deaths associated with HIV/AIDS. The mortality probability between 15 and 60 years was 49% for men and 46% for women and life expectancy was 43 years for men and 44 years for women. By their second birthday nearly one-quarter of the newborns of HIV-infected mothers had died, which was 2.5 times higher than among children of HIV-negative mothers. Mobility of household members before and after death was high. In 44% of households in which the head died all members moved out of the household.

Conclusions: In this rural population with HIV prevalence close to 7% among adults aged 15-44 years during the mid-1990s, HIV/AIDS is having substantial impact on adult mortality. A common response to death of a head of household in this community is household dissolution, which has implications for measurement of the demographic and socio-economic impact of AIDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Female
  • HIV Antibodies / blood
  • HIV Infections / mortality*
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rural Population*
  • Tanzania / epidemiology


  • HIV Antibodies