Integrating mental health into HIV prevention and care: call to action

King’s College London

Dr Melanie Abas was recently given the opportunity to edit a special supplement if the Journal of the International Society of Aids ahead of the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science.

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King’s researcher, Professor Melanie Abas, working in collaboration with Drs Robert H Remien, Vikram Patel, and Dixon Chibada, was recently given the opportunity to edit a special supplement if the Journal of the International Society of Aids ahead of the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science.

The supplement, which includes a special editorial written by the four doctors, placed a particular focus on sourcing articles that looked at the effects of HIV in populations from Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) in which there are a particularly high burden of HIV.

Much has been written about mental health and HIV in high-resource settings, especially in the United States. However, 90% of all those living with HIV globally, and 83% of the world’s total population, live in low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC). Knowledge generated in high-income countries may not translate to the very diverse contexts encountered in LMIC where factors such as poverty, patterns of the burden of disease, gender norms, discrimination against specific groups, and mental health resources vary greatly.– Integrating mental health into HIV prevention and care: a call to action – Robert H Remien, Vikram Patel, Dixon Chibanda, Melanie Amna Abas

People living with HIV continue to be at heightened risk and experience higher rates of common mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety and substance abuse, compared with the general population. However, the intersections of mental health and HIV have been woefully neglected across the globe and particularly in low-resource settings. This is despite the overwhelming majority of people living with HIV being in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Mental health for this vast number of people must be urgently improved to enable those living with or at risk of acquiring HIV to have enhanced quality of life and a better chance of a normal life expectancy, and for those living with HIV to reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to others.

Professor Melanie Abas from King’s IoPPN said, “Our decision to include certain articles over others was based on two factors: firstly whether the research had been carried out in predominantly LMICs, and secondly the extent to which they included populations at the highest risk of contracting HIV.

“From our work on this supplement, I feel that we’ve come out with a landmark set of policy recommendations and research that will help to educate and inform the next five years of work.”

Integrating mental health into HIV prevention and care: a call to action (Robert H Remien, Vikram Patel, Dixon Chibanda, Melanie Amna Abas) was published in the Journal of the International Aids Society.

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