Prevalence and variability of HIV/AIDS-associated neurocognitive impairments in Africa: A systematic review and meta-analysis


Background: HIV/AIDS-associated neurocognitive impairments negatively affect treatment adherence, viral load suppression, CD4 count, functionality, and the overall quality of life of people with seropositive status. However, huge variability is observed across primary studies regarding the prevalence and determinants of neurocognitive impairment in people with HIV/AIDS. This systematic review and meta-analysis sought to determine the pooled prevalence of neurocognitive impairment and identify factors contributing to variations in its estimate among people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Methods: A comprehensive literature search of scientific databases (Medline/PubMed, SCOPUS, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and EMBASE) was performed from inception onward. Google and Google Scholar were also searched for grey literature. Research articles available until July 15, 2022 were included. We used STATA-version 14 statistical software for analysis. A random effect model was executed to pool the reported prevalence of neurocognitive impairments. Subgroup analysis was done to show variations in the prevalence of neurocognitive impairments and factors that might contribute to these variations.

Results: A literature search resulted in 8,047 articles. After the removal of duplications and thorough evaluation, a total of 49 studies were included in the meta-analysis. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS-associated neurocognitive impairments was highly variable across studies, ranging from 14% to 88%, yielding the pooled prevalence of HIV/AIDS-associated neurocognitive impairment to be 46.34% [95% CI (40.32, 52.36)] and I2 = 98.5% with a P-value of 0.001.

Conclusions: A large proportion of people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa have HIV/AIDS-associated neurocognitive impairment. This illustrates the need to establish practical approaches to early identification and effective control of HIV/AIDS-associated neurocognitive impairments. However, there were variabilities in the reported prevalence of HIV/AIDS-associated neurocognitive impairments across studies. This further demonstrates the need to have consistent measurement approaches.


Mekuriaw B, Belayneh Z, Teshome W, Akalu Y




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Mental Health
    • Neurocognitive disorders


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