Modelling of trends in age-specific death rates in South Africa suggests that deaths attributable to HIV are often misclassified on death notification forms. We compared the underlying cause of death from death notification forms with that based on scrutiny of medical records for 683 deaths in Cape Town. Of 129 deaths caused by HIV according to medical records, only 35 (27.1%) were ascribed to HIV on the death notification form using strict coding and 83 (64.3%) using interpretive coding. © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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