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OBJECTIVE--To determine the number of deaths attributable to HIV infection among men aged 15-64 in a geographically defined population in the United Kingdom. DESIGN--Retrospective review of death certificates and linkage with local and national HIV and AIDS surveillance data. SETTING--Riverside District Health Authority, London. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Numbers of deaths attributed to HIV infection in male residents of Riverside aged 15-64 and 15-44 over a six month period. Proportion of attributed deaths were (i) identified from death certificates by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys as being due to HIV infection and (ii) reported as cases of AIDS or HIV related deaths to the Public Health Laboratory Service Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre. RESULTS--34 of 213 (16%) deaths in men aged 15-64 and 27 of 69 (39%) deaths in men aged 15-44 were attributed to HIV infection. Six of 33 (18%) attributed deaths were identified by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys and 32/34 (94%) were reported to the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre. CONCLUSIONS--HIV infection was the leading cause of death in male residents of Riverside aged 15-44 and the third commonest cause of death in those aged 15-64. Most individuals dying of known HIV infection were reported to the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre but identification of the true cause of death from the process of death certification was poor. Measures to improve the certification of HIV and AIDS or the use of AIDS surveillance information correctly to code the cause of death needs to be considered to ensure that the true impact of HIV infection is reflected in routine mortality statistics.