Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Mental Health and HIV/AIDS in Africa

Academic journal article South African Journal of Psychiatry

Mental Health and HIV/AIDS in Africa

Article excerpt

Poor access to mental health care for people infected and affected by HIV combined with poor access to HIV prevention, care and treatment for people with mental health needs were key themes discussed at a World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) expert forum convened in Cape Town, South Africa, in January.

The forum of 23 leaders from different specialties in the AIDS and mental health fields explored mental health needs for all aspects of the AIDS response, with particular attention to the needs of carers, people living with HIV and vulnerable children--groups identified as often experiencing the most significant mental health challenges as a result of AIDS.

Research by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group and Wits University showed that 89% of home-based care workers in North West Province and Mpumalanga were depressed or showed signs of depression. WHO consultant Melvyn Freeman referenced a study in Zambia that showed 85% of pregnant women diagnosed HIV positive had episodes of major depression and many had suicidal thoughts, and another revealing increased depression and suicide among AIDS orphans in East and Southern Africa.

The meeting also heard how service gaps can lead to undue suffering, loss of quality of life, and poor uptake of, and adherence to, HIV prevention, treatment and AIDS care programmes. …

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