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The mental health of people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa: A systematic review

Year: 2008
Working paper number: 231
Author: Brandt, René
Unit: ASRU

This paper reviews published quantitative research on the mental health of HIV-infected adults in Africa. Twenty-seven articles published between 1994 and 2008 reported the results of 23 studies. Most studies found that about half of HIV-infected adults had some form of psychiatric disorder, with depression the most common individual problem. PLWHA tended to have more mental health problems than non-infected individuals, with those experiencing lower levels less likely to be poor and more likely to be employed, educated and receiving ART. Being female, experiencing poor health, receiving poor quality health services, and a lack of material and emotional support from family and friends were associated with greater psychiatric morbidity. While some key findings emerged, the knowledge base was diverse and methodological quality uneven, thus studies lacked comparability and not all findings were equally robust. Further, more rigorous research is needed in order to put mental health services for PLWHA in Africa on the healthcare agenda. Priorities for future research should include replicating findings regarding common mental health problems amongst PLWHA, issues for HIV-infected women, and the longer-term mental health needs of those on ART. Research is also needed into predictors of mental health outcomes and factors associated with adherence to ART which can be targeted in interventions. 

Publication file: WP231.pdf