Abstract

Prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV can virtually eliminate paediatric HIV infection. Studies are needed to understand child development outcomes for children exposed to HIV in utero but born HIV negative (HIV affected children). This systematic review examined cognitive, developmental and behavioural outcomes for HIV affected children compared to control unexposed and uninfected children. Key word searches of electronic databases generated 1,739 hits and 11 studies with adequate quality design and measures of standardised cognitive, behavioural and developmental indices. Cognitive performance, behaviour and developmental delay were measured with 15 different standardised scales from 650 HIV affected children, 736 control children and 205 HIV positive children. Performance scores for HIV affected children were significantly lower than controls in at least one measure in 7/11 studies. An emerging pattern of delay seems apparent. HIV affected children will grow in number and their development needs to be monitored and provided for.