Working to Advance
Health Equity in Africa

Systematic Review Series

Systematic Review Series


This series of reviews focuses on empirical work on the intersection of disability and HIV in Africa. It includes systematic reviews of papers up until 2009. Firstly, the reviews suggest that people with disabilities are at increased risk of exposure to HIV and lack access to information, testing and treatment. Further, the reviews reveal areas of concern and lack of research. While vulnerability and accessibility are focused on, only very few prevalence studies or evaluations are available. While a certain amount of work focuses on the deaf population, little has been done for other disability groups. A growing area of concern is sexual abuse and exploitation of people with disabilities. Only few studies or interventions focus on this for HIV, which is a crucial area. Secondly there is little work on the disabling effects of HIV in Africa, even though there is a rich body of evidence available from the North.  Some of the papers are published in HEARD’s special issue on HIV and disability in the Journal of the International AIDS Society in 2009.


  • To synthesise the evidence on the vulnerability of people with disabilities to HIV and AIDS in Africa
  • To synthesise the evidence on HIV related disabilities in hyper-endemic countries

Methodological Approach:

This scoping review uses the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to conceptualize ‘disability’. A systematic search of electronic databases is conducted using specific keyword and subject heading combinations. Identified publications are screened and reviewed according to inclusion/exclusion criteria. Data is systematically extracted and reviewed for quality. Extracted data is reviewed for patterns related to methods or results.