Common mental disorders and psychological adjustment among individuals seeking HIV testing : a study protocol to explore implications for mental health care systems
CITATION: Bantjes, Jason & Kagee, Ashraf. 2018. Common mental disorders and psychological adjustment among individuals seeking HIV testing : a study protocol to explore implications for mental health care systems. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 12:16, doi:10.1186/s13033-018-0196-0.
The original publication is available at https://ijmhs.biomedcentral.com
Background: In an effort to promote greater access to voluntary counseling and testing for HIV, it has become practice in many countries, including South Africa, to establish non-medical testing sites and to de-couple HIV testing from other medical and mental health care services. While it is well established that HIV infection is associated with a range of psychopathology, much of the literature has assumed that it is receipt of an HIV positive diagnosis that causes people to become depressed, traumatized, or develop other psychiatric symptoms. Empirical data about the baseline psychiatric condition and mental health care needs of persons seeking HIV testing is scarce. Understanding the psychological health of persons seeking HIV testing and documenting how psychiatric symptoms develop over time following receipt of an HIV positive diagnosis, has important implications for mental health care systems. Methods: We describe a study protocol to investigate: (1) the level of psychological distress and the prevalence of common mental disorders among persons seeking HIV testing; (2) the longitudinal development of psychiatric symptoms among persons diagnosed with HIV; and (3) the recommendations that can be made for mental health care systems to support persons seeking HIV testing and those newly diagnosed with HIV. In this longitudinal study quantitative and qualitative data are collected to document participants’ psychiatric symptoms, to determine whether they meet diagnostic criteria for a common mental disorder, and to explore the lived experiences of persons receiving an HIV positive test result. Data are collected at three time points; before HIV testing, and then again at 6 and 12 months post-testing. Discussion: Documenting the prevalence of common mental disorders among persons seeking HIV testing, and tracking the psychosocial support needs, psychological adjustment and psychosocial experiences of persons newly diagnosed with HIV, has important implications for the delivery of mental health care services and the design of integrated mental health care systems.