Document Type



Institute for Human Development


Objective: In this systematic review, we aimed to summarise the empirical evidence on common mental disorders (CMDs), cognitive impairment, frailty and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among people living with HIV aged ≥50 years (PLWH50 +) residing in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Specifically, we document the prevalence and correlates of these outcomes.

Design, data sources and eligibility criteria: The following online databases were systematically searched: PubMed, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Embase and Scopus up to January 2021. English-language publications on depression, anxiety, cognitive function, frailty and quality of life among PLWH50+ residing in SSA were included.

Data extraction and synthesis: We extracted information, including study characteristics and main findings. These were tabulated, and a narrative synthesis approach was adopted, given the substantial heterogeneity among included studies.

Results: A total of 50 studies from fifteen SSA countries met the inclusion criteria. About two-thirds of these studies emanated from Ethiopia, Uganda and South Africa. Studies regarding depression predominated (n=26), followed by cognitive impairment (n=13). Overall, PLWH50+ exhibited varying prevalence of depression (6%–59%), cognitive impairments (4%–61%) and frailty (3%–15%). The correlates of CMDs, cognitive impairment, frailty and HRQoL were rarely investigated, but those reported were sociodemographic variables, many of which were inconsistent.

Conclusions: This review documented an increasing number of published studies on HIV and ageing from SSA. However, the current evidence on the mental and well-being outcomes in PLWH50+ is inadequate to characterise the public health dimension of these impairments in SSA, because of heterogeneous findings, few well-designed studies and substantial methodological limitations in many of the available studies. Future work should have sufficiently large samples of PLWH50+, engage appropriate comparison groups, harmonise the measurement of these outcomes using a standardised methodology to generate more robust prevalence estimates and confirm predictors.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMJ Open

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.