HIV incidence and death among orphaned and nonorphaned children and adolescents living in family-based settings in western Kenya: a prospective cohort analysis

Document Type



Internal Medicine (East Africa); Brain and Mind Institute


Objective: To compare the incidence of HIV, death, and abuse among orphaned children to nonorphaned children living in households caring for orphaned children in Western Kenya.

Study design: A random sample was taken of 300 households caring for at least one orphaned child in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya. All orphaned and nonorphaned children in each selected household were enrolled in a prospective cohort study between 2010 and 2013. A total of 1488 children (487 double orphans, 743 single orphans, and 258 nonorphans) were followed up annually until 2019. Survival analysis was used to estimate hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of the association between the number of parents the child had lost (none, 1, or 2), and HIV incidence, death, combined HIV incidence or death, and incident abuse.

Results: Among 1488 children enrolled, 52% of participants were females, 23 were HIV positive, and the median age was 10.4 years. Over the course of the study, 16 orphaned children died and 11 acquired HIV. No deaths or incident HIV infections were observed among the nonorphaned children. Among children who were HIV negative at enrollment, loss of a parent was strongly associated with incident HIV (adjusted hazard ratio: 2.21 per parent lost, 95% CI: 1.03-4.73) and HIV or death (adjusted hazard ratio: 2.46 per parent lost, 95% CI: 1.37-4.42). There were no significant associations between orphan level and abuse.

Conclusion: In similar households, orphaned children experience a higher risk of HIV and death than nonorphaned children. Both orphaned children and the families caring for them need additional support to prevent adverse health outcomes.

Publication (Name of Journal)

The Journal of Pediatrics