Addressing intersections in HIV/AIDS and mental health: The role of organizations for D/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals in South Africa
LIKE SOUTH AFRICANS generally, d/Deaf and hard of hearing South Africans are at risk of HIV/AIDS and mental disorders resulting from barriers to communication and care. In interviews and a focus group, members of South African organizations for d/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals all gave priority to HIV/AIDS education and prevention, citing risks resulting from language and communication barriers, inadequate schooling, and insufficient information in South African Sign Language. Participants gave varied descriptions of HIV/AIDS programs in schools for d/Deaf and hard of hearing students and described school initiatives they had directed. Some participants gave mental health problems lesser priority; others said susceptibility to mental disorders may result from communication difficulties and therefore warrants specialized services. Others, seeing a need to address mental health in HIV/AIDS prevention, had designed programs accordingly. Such prevention efforts merit support, as do activities to reduce communication barriers.