Psychiatric disorders in perinatally HIV-exposed, uninfected children: a systematic review


The population of perinatally HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU) children is growing rapidly globally. However, perinatal HIV and antiretroviral (ARV) medicine exposure in HIV-uninfected children has raised concerns about HEU children's mental well-being. The objective of this study was to systematically review the literature on psychiatric disorders in HEU children. The PRISMA guideline was used as a methodical frame of reference. A systematic search was conducted in 5 databases. Data from the included studies were extracted, and the results were summarized qualitatively. The search identified 1,976 articles of which 105 were eligible for full-text analysis. 13 studies met the inclusion criteria. Eight studies compared psychiatric disorder prevalence in perinatally HIV-infected children with HEU children, and only one study found a difference between the two groups. Three studies found that HEU children had a higher prevalence of psychiatric disorders compared with HIV-unexposed, uninfected (HUU) children. These findings indicate that factors such as psychosocial stress, socioeconomic status, and stigma contribute to the increased risk of mental disorders in HEU children. More research is needed comparing HEU children with HUU children adjusting for potential confounders that might partially explain the higher rates seen in the HIV-exposed population.Prospero ID: CRD42020212420.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAIDS care
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Nov 2022


  • Children
  • ART exposure
  • psychiatric disorder
  • pediatrics
  • perinatal HIV exposure
  • antiretroviral therapy


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