Link Between Maternal Mortality & HIV "Laid Bare"

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The Lancet today published a new analysis of maternal mortality data, in which the authors document greater progress in reducing maternal deaths than previous examinations. They also highlight the role of HIV in preventing even more significant gains in saving mother’s lives.

The authors estimate there were 342,900 maternal deaths globally in 2008, down from about 526,300 in 1980. Subtract HIV from the equation, they write, and there would have been 281,500 maternal deaths in 2008. The on-the-ground implications: more pregnant women and new mothers should be given access to ARVs.

“Our analysis, in line with previous studies, draws attention to the important adverse effect of the HIV epidemic on the MMR [maternal mortality ratio], especially in east and southern Africa,” write Dr. Christopher Murray, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and colleagues. “In the absence of HIV, progress in sub-Saharan Africa in reducing the MMR would have been much more extensive than we recorded. The counterfactual analysis of the MMR without HIV-related deaths has important implications for intervention policy. The set of interventions for dealing with HIV infection in pregnant or post-partum women would include access to antiretroviral drugs, which is not part of the set of maternal health interventions targeting women who are HIV negative.”

In an accompanying editorial, the Lancet writes that “HIV has been a major cause of paralysis” in improving maternal mortality and this study exposes “the intimate connection between HIV and maternal health.”

Hopefully this connection will not be lost on key policymakers, as maternal mortality gets increased attention from the White House and others in the U.S. government.

4 thoughts on “Link Between Maternal Mortality & HIV "Laid Bare"

  1. scarlettonomatopoeia

    Wow. Thank you for outlining that. I had never thought about HIV positive women in the equation. We most definitely need to get ART to women during and after their pregnancies and for the rest of their lives. Also use meds to prevent mother to child transmission of the virus vigorously.


  2. Pingback: Improving Maternal Health in Africa « Science Speaks: HIV & TB News

  3. Rannie mashakure

    Funding Ahead! It is shocking that already the world is not coping with the funding demands of HIV and AIDS. I reflect on funding the fight of AIDS in Southern Africa at this point in time when the UN family speaks of the unversal access to treatment. Africa is miles away from affording the poor the so called universal access to ARVs. In Southern Africa, the remote rural areas are not enjoying the primary health care. Some people walk 50km to get to a clinic and yet there is economic melt down globally. When are these poorest of the poor people going to enjoy the health services? May God at least turn and afford them a glance or else they live to regret why he ever allowed them to see mother earth. What is happenning to the HIV positive children in Zimbabwe where there is economic melt down? Can the child born HIV positive dream of getting the ARV formula in the rural areas? Only God knows how and where and by whose.


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