The first global study into pneumonia deaths in children with HIV has found that, in one year, pneumonia affected 1.4 million children and led to a further 88,000 deaths, according to researchers at University of Edinburgh publishing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 

Researchers recommend that child pneumonia deaths could be dramatically reduced with improvements in early testing for HIV in infants, antiretroviral therapy (ART) for pregnant women and young children and vaccination.

The greatest number of HIV cases occurred in Sub-Saharan countries. In Swaziland, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, up to 20% of all pneumonia cases and 60% of all pneumonia deaths occurred in HIV-positive children.

Globally, there are 3.2 million HIV-positive children under 14 years of age, almost 90% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.

The study examined HIV and pneumonia cases in under-fives in 133 developing countries in Africa and South East Asia in 2010.

Although pneumonia is a leading cause of death and illness in young children worldwide, this is the first global and country-level estimate of the pneumonia burden in HIV-positive children.

Pneumonia is strongly linked to poverty, poor living conditions, inadequate health services, malnutrition and HIV infection. Africa and South East Asia are the worst affected regions, where pneumonia is a leading cause of death in children.