While the characteristics of those who seek psychosocial support following an HIV diagnosis have been well documented in western countries where linkages between HIV-related treatment and psychosocial support programs are well established, little is known about those who become engaged with such services in countries of the world where comprehensive HIV-related care and prevention systems are continuing to develop. Data were collected from 397 individuals who had enrolled in HIV-related psychosocial support groups in western Kenya in November 2005. Demographic and HIV-related characteristics, as well as assessments of psychological distress, were collected from each participant and analyzed by gender in order to document the characteristics of those seeking psychosocial care in conjunction with their participation in an HIV-related treatment and prevention program. Those seeking psychosocial support were primarily female (72%), living with HIV for an average of 2.5 years, and unemployed (70%). Women were younger and more likely to be either widowed or never married; while men were more likely to have advanced HIV disease, including lower CD4 counts and an AIDS diagnosis. Across all participants, HIV serostatus disclosure was rarely reported to sex partners, family members, and friends. Symptoms of psychological distress were more prevalent among women on multiple measures, including depression, anxiety, paranoid ideation, interpersonal sensitivity, and somatization. An increased understanding of the characteristics of those likely to seek psychosocial support groups will help HIV program managers to develop protocols necessary for facilitating linkages to psychosocial support for those enrolled in HIV-related treatment programs. Patient engagement in psychosocial support may facilitate improvements in psychological function and support an individual's maintenance of HIV treatment and prevention behaviors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases