Objective: To assess mortality impact of HIV in rural Uganda.
Methods: An open cohort of 19 983 adults aged 15–59 years, in Rakai district was followed at 10 month intervals for four surveys. Sociodemographic characteristics and symptomatology/disease conditions were assessed by interview. Deaths among residents and out-migrants were identified household census. Mortality rates were computed per 1000 person years (py) and the rate ratio (RR) of death in HIV-positive/HIV-negative subjects, and the population attributable fraction (PAF) of death were estimated according to sociodemographic characteristics. Mortality associated with potential AIDS defining symptoms and signs was assessed.
Results: HIV prevalence was 16.1%. Mortality was 132.6 per 1000 py in HIV-infected versus 6.7 per 1000 py in uninfected subjects, and 73.5% of adult deaths were attributable to HIV infection. Mortality increased with age, but the highest attributable risk of HIV associated deaths were observed in persons aged 20–39 years (PAF > 80%) and in women. HIV associated mortality was highest in the better educated (PAF ≥ 75%) and among government employees (PAF ≥ 82%). Of the HIV-positive subjects 40.5% reported no illness < 10 months preceding death, symptoms were poor predictors of death (sensitivity 1.6–38.8%), and only 9.1% met the World Health Organization clinical definition of AIDS. Infant mortality rates in babies of HIV-infected and uninfected mothers were 209.4 and 97.7 per 1000, respectively.
Conclusion: HIV is taking substantial toll in this population, particularly among the younger better educated adults, and infants. Symptomatology or the World Health Organization definition of AIDS are poor predictors of death.