Pattern and determinants of HIV research productivity in sub-Saharan Africa: bibliometric analysis of 1981 to 2009 PubMed papers

BMC Infect Dis. 2010 Mar 5;10:47. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-10-47.


Background: Several bibliometric studies have been published on AIDS. The findings obtained from these studies have provided a general picture of the history and growth of AIDS literature. However, factors related to variation in HIV research productivity in sub-Saharan Africa have not been examined. Therefore, this study aims to fill some of the gap in existing research to provide insights into factors associated with HIV research productivity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: A bibliometric analysis regarding sub-Saharan Africa HIV/AIDS research was conducted in the PubMed database for the period of 1981 to 2009. The numbers of HIV research articles indexed in PubMed was used as surrogate for total HIV research productivity. Series of univariable and multivariable negative binomial regression models were used to explore factors associated with variation in HIV research productivity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Results: First authors from South Africa, Uganda and Kenya contributed almost half of the total number of HIV articles indexed in PubMed between 1981 and 2009. Uganda, Zimbabwe and Malawi had better records when the total production was adjusted for gross domestic product (GDP). Comoros, the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau were the most productive countries when the total products were normalized by number of people with HIV. There were strong positive and statistically significant correlation between countries number of indexed journal (Pearson correlation r = 0.77, p = .001), number of higher institutions (r = 0.60, p = .001), number of physicians (r = 0.83, p = .001) and absolute numbers of HIV articles.

Conclusions: HIV research productivity in Africa is highly skewed. To increase HIV research output, total expenditure on health (% of GDP), private expenditure on health, and adult literacy rate may be important factors to address.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Animals
  • Bibliometrics*
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data*
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • PubMed / statistics & numerical data*