Submitted by cadre-editor on Thu, 07/10/2008 - 15:55.
The vicious circularity of mental health effects of HIV/AIDS: Symptom and cause of poor responses to the epidemic.
In this paper we consider the possibility that psychosocial effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic may have acted to sustain and entrench the epidemic. After reviewing the evidence for an association between HIV/AIDS and psychological dysfunction in the form of breakdown of coping responses to the point of psychiatric disorder, we suggest that it is not inevitable that this should have happened. We argue that these effects are partially created and certainly sustained by the manner in which the epidemic has been responded to. Reviewing findings from our previous research on mental health effects of HIV/AIDS and analysing interviews conducted with HIV positive respondents, we describe psychological responses to HIV infection and their possible epidemiological consequences. We argue that these have acted with vicious circularity, undermining responses to the epidemic and compounding the predisposing psychosocial vectors of HIV infection. In closing we suggest that particular intervention strategies need to be much more carefully thought through and we make some recommendations regarding the need to respond to the mental health dimensions of HIV/AIDS.