HIV and maternal mortality need integrative approach

An integrative approach is needed to tackle the twin challenges of HIV and maternal mortality, an expert has claimed.

Writing in the International Journal of Women's Health, Dr Sara Gorman, from Harvard University, says the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) relating to improving maternal health has been "recalcitrant" to progress.

Sub-Saharan Africa has particularly high maternal mortality rates, with deaths affecting 640 out of every 100,000 live births and the rate declining by just 0.1 per cent per year.

There and in some other parts of the world, HIV in pregnancy is contributing to persistently high mortality rates, Dr Gorman claims.

She says there is a "key connection" between maternal mortality and HIV infection, with a joint report from the World Health Organisation, Unicef, the UN Population Fund and the World Bank estimating that almost one in ten maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa between 1990 and 2008 was due to HIV/Aids.

Dr Gorman calls for more research into the mechanisms by which HIV/Aids contributes to maternal mortality, as well as greater integration of prenatal care and HIV treatment.

She concludes: "To be sure, goals of reducing incidence of HIV and reducing maternal mortality rates are inextricably linked."