Impact of HIV/AIDS on African children

Soc Sci Med. 1990;31(6):671-80. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(90)90249-r.


In Central and East Africa, pediatric human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) are becoming increasing threats to child health due to the predominance of heterosexual transmission of HIV, high HIV infection rates in women of reproductive age and high birth rates. This paper examines the potential impact of HIV/AIDS on orphanhood and under-five mortality in 10 Central and East African countries. The author estimates that, in the 10 countries studied, HIV/AIDS in children under age five will cause between one-quarter and half a million child deaths annually by the year 2000. Whereas the United Nations estimate (without AIDS) and target for the under-five mortality rate in this 10-country region by the year 2000 are 132 and 78, respectively, HIV/AIDS will cause the under-five mortality rate to rise to between 159 and 189. Increasing HIV/AIDS-related adult mortality is creating a large and growing number of children under age 15 whose mothers have died of HIV/AIDS. During the 1990s, HIV/AIDS will kill a total of between 1.5 and 2.9 million women of reproductive age in this region, producing between 3.1 and 5.5 million AIDS orphans--which means that between 6 and 11% of the population under age 15 will be orphaned. National and international government and nongovernment service providers in Central and East Africa need to recognize this potential impact of HIV/AIDS on children, expand AIDS-prevention efforts, and develop policies and programs to address children's HIV/AIDS-related needs.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / mortality*
  • Africa, Central / epidemiology
  • Africa, Eastern / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries*
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • HIV Infections / mortality*
  • HIV Seroprevalence / trends
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Morbidity