Autopsy causes of death in HIV-positive individuals in sub-Saharan Africa and correlation with clinical diagnoses

JA Cox, RL Lukande, S Lucas, AM Nelson, E Van Marck, R Colebunders

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


    Despite the persistently high HIV-related mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, limited information on the causes of death is available. Pathological autopsies are the gold standard to establish causes of death. In this review we describe the autopsy series performed among HIV-infected individuals in sub-Saharan Africa over the last two decades. We identified nine complete and 11 partial or minimally invasive autopsy series. Complete autopsies were performed in 593 HIV-positive adults and 177 HIV-positive children. Postmortem diagnoses were mainly infectious diseases. Tuberculosis was the most frequent, present in 21-54% of HIV-positive adults and was considered the cause of death in 32-45%. Overall, pulmonary infections accounted for approximately 66% of pathology and central nervous system infections for approximately 20%. A high discordance between clinical and postmortem diagnoses was observed. This review emphasizes the need for reliable information on causes of death in order to improve HIV patient care, guide further research, and inform health policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAIDS Reviews
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)183-194
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


    • B780-tropical-medicine
    • Viral diseases
    • HIV
    • AIDS
    • Mortality
    • Autopsy
    • Adults
    • Children
    • Clinical diagnosis
    • Causes of death
    • Tuberculosis
    • Pulmonary diseases
    • Central nervous system
    • Discordance
    • Correlation
    • Review of the literature
    • Africa-General


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