Written By Godwin Etim
Research shows that mental health disorders are highly prevalent among people living with HIV-AIDS, with major depressive disorders (MDD) occurring almost twice as frequently than in the general population. There are biological and social conditions that predispose a person with HIV to mental health disorders. The HIV virus itself also can contribute to mental health problems because it affects the brain cells. Some other opportunistic infections can also affect the nervous system and lead to changes in behaviour and functioning. Similarly, neuropsychological disorders, such as mild cognitive changes or more severe cognitive conditions, such as dementia, are associated with HIV disease.
NEPWHAN (Network of People Living With HIV & AIDS) identified this burden among its members and initiated (in partnership with Gede Foundation) a self-help group mainly for families going through these conditions.
The maiden and inaugural meeting took place on September 22, 2018 at NEPWHAN’s Office in Asokoro.
At the meeting, the Foundation presented its findings from the research on ‘Prevalence of depression, alcohol abuse, and suicidality among people living with HIV in FCT’, and also discussed the effectiveness of its current Community Mental Health Programme, using the BasicNeeds’ Model— which addresses stigma, provides medication and livelihood support leading to full recovery for those suffering from mental illnesses and epilepsy.
This partnership is timely as 1) the Country’s National HIV-AIDS Strategic Framework (2017-2021) mandated an integration of mental health services into the treatment and care protocols for those living with HIV, and, 2) the UNAIDS’ targets of 90:90:90 would be approached with some level of success when the mental health status for people at testing and treatment levels are considered and addressed.
The Body & Soul self-help group will be meeting every second Saturday of the month with the aim of expanding the groups across the states.
Visit our blog to receive more information on the outcome of this partnership