Background: The maternal mortality ratio in poor countries is reported to be 650/100,000 live births. This high maternal mortality may be associated with increasing numbers of HIV related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.
Objective: To establish the direct causes of maternal mortality related to the HIV syndrome.
Methods: A retrospective analysis was done of 378 maternal deaths at King Edward VIII Hospital, Durban, between January 1998 and December 2004. Results. The commonest cause of death related to HIV was World Health Organization (WHO) clinical classification stage IV disease, followed by pneumonia (bacterial and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia), pregnancy-related sepsis and pulmonary tuberculosis.
Conclusion: HIV/AIDS has a great impact on maternal mortality in South Africa, mainly because of the increasing incidence of this syndrome in women in their early reproductive years.