Background: A legacy of colonial rule coupled with a devastating 16-year civil war through 1992 left Mozambique economically impoverished just as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic swept over southern Africa in the late 1980s. The crumbling Mozambican health care system was wholly inadequate to support the need for new chronic disease services for people with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Methods: To review the unique challenges faced by Mozambique as they have attempted to stem the HIV epidemic, we undertook a systematic literature review through multiple search engines (PubMed, Google Scholar, SSRN, AnthropologyPlus, AnthroSource) using Mozambique as a required keyword. We searched for any articles that included the required keyword as well as the terms 'HIV' and/or 'AIDS', 'prevalence', 'behaviors', 'knowledge', 'attitudes', 'perceptions', 'prevention', 'gender', drugs, alcohol, and/or 'health care infrastructure'.
Results: UNAIDS 2008 prevalence estimates ranked Mozambique as the 8th most HIV-afflicted nation globally. In 2007, measured HIV prevalence in 36 antenatal clinic sites ranged from 3% to 35%; the national estimate of was 16%. Evidence suggests that the Mozambican HIV epidemic is characterized by a preponderance of heterosexual infections, among the world's most severe health worker shortages, relatively poor knowledge of HIV/AIDS in the general population, and lagging access to HIV preventive and therapeutic services compared to counterpart nations in southern Africa. Poor education systems, high levels of poverty and gender inequality further exacerbate HIV incidence.
Conclusions: Recommendations to reduce HIV incidence and AIDS mortality rates in Mozambique include: health system strengthening, rural outreach to increase testing and linkage to care, education about risk reduction and drug adherence, and partnerships with traditional healers and midwives to effect a lessening of stigma.