Measles outbreak in Africa: Is there a link to the HIV-1 epidemic?

Measles remains an important cause of child mortality, although the numbers of measles-related deaths has decreased during the last decade  through childhood immunisation programmes and follow-up measles vaccine campaigns. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched a global plan to further reduce measles mortality in the years 2006–2010. Despite these joint efforts, an increased number of large and deadly outbreaks of measles on the African continent were reported, with the most severe outbreaks in Chad, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. The current increase in measles cases has been attributed to a failure in maintaining high measles vaccine coverage. There are obviously several factors of medical and social relevance to take into consideration when trying to explain the increased measles outbreaks in Africa. In this article, our focus is to highlight the possibility of a co-existing link between the measles outbreaks and pathological features of HIV-1 infection in mothers and children, as the measles outbreaks occurred in countries with a high HIV-1 prevalence.