Executive function in HIV-affected children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analyses


This review aimed to determine: whether EF is affected in children and adolescents (2–24-years-old) with perinatal HIV infection, perinatal HIV exposure without infection, and behaviourally acquired HIV. A systematic review (PROSPERO number: CRD42017067813) was conducted using 11 electronic databases (01.01.1981–09.07.2019) and 8 conference websites. Primary quantitative studies with EF scores on cognitive tasks and/or behavioural report measures were included. Meta-analyses were performed by EF subtype and subpopulations compared. 1789 records were found. Sixty-one studies were included in the narrative synthesis; 32 (N = 7884 participants) were included in meta-analyses. There was a distinct pattern of reduced EF in those with perinatal HIV infection on antiretroviral therapy compared to controls: pooled effect sizes were largest for verbal and visuospatial working memory, with smaller effects on planning, inhibitory control and set-shifting. Data were limited for other HIV-affected subpopulations. Perinatal HIV infection is associated with reduced EF with varying effect sizes for the different EF subtypes.


Rowe K, Buivydaite R, Heinsohn T, Rahimzadeh M, Wagner RG, Scerif G, Stein A




  • Population(s)
    • Children or Youth (less than 18 years old)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Mental Health
    • Neurocognitive disorders


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