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This review aimed to determine: whether EF is affected in children and adolescents (2-24-years-old) with perinatal HIV infection, perinatal HIV exposure without infection, and behaviourally acquired HIV. A systematic review (PROSPERO number: CRD42017067813) was conducted using 11 electronic databases (01.01.1981-09.07.2019) and 8 conference websites. Primary quantitative studies with EF scores on cognitive tasks and/or behavioural report measures were included. Meta-analyses were performed by EF subtype and subpopulations compared. 1789 records were found. Sixty-one studies were included in the narrative synthesis; 32 (N = 7884 participants) were included in meta-analyses. There was a distinct pattern of reduced EF in those with perinatal HIV infection on antiretroviral therapy compared to controls: pooled effect sizes were largest for verbal and visuospatial working memory, with smaller effects on planning, inhibitory control and set-shifting. Data were limited for other HIV-affected subpopulations. Perinatal HIV infection is associated with reduced EF with varying effect sizes for the different EF subtypes.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date



1 - 25


HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder, Perinatally acquired HIV, executive function, neurodevelopment, paediatric HIV, systematic review