Despite the large progress during the last decades in the medical treatment of HIV/AIDS infection, people living with HIV nevertheless face multiple adversities at various levels of their lives. Mental disorders, in particular, are the most common comorbidities in HIV infection with negative consequences in adherence to antiretroviral medication, disease progress and overall quality of life. HIVrelated stigma, still quite intense in Greece, is one of the most debilitating factors concerning people’s living with HIV mental health. The present study looked at the clinical presentation at intake and treatment requests of 191 (83% males) people living with HIV who addressed the psychological support service of the non-governmental organization ‘Centre for Life’ during the years 2016- 18. Data were collected through a semi-structured clinical interview and administration of adapted questionnaires (PHQ-9, BAI, CAGE), which resulted in 7 dichotomous variables related to clinical presentation and 13 dichotomous variables related to treatment requests at intake. To analyze data, we constructed frequency tables and performed chi-square tests. In the whole sample, 42.2% presented anxiety disorders, 40.3% depression, 28.8% occasional substance use, 17.5% problematic use of alcohol and 13.6% intravenous drug use. Moreover, 14% reported at least one suicide attempt in the past and 9.2% current suicidal ideation. Apart from more frequent intravenous drug use among heterosexual males and more frequent occasional/recreational drug use among men who have sex with men, no other differences related to gender, age group, sexual orientation or ethnicity were observed in the initial clinical presentation. Similarly, the most frequent treatment requests were homogenously distributed in our sample, such as depressive symptoms (58.6%), difficulties in romantic relationships (48.7%), accepting being HIV positive (42.9%), anxiety symptoms (42.4%) and issues of negative self-esteem (40.8%). The presence of clinically significant depression was found to be related to a wider range of treatment requests compared to other mental health problems. A large group of requests focused on interpersonal relationships difficulties (e.g. disclosure anxiety, social isolation, disturbed relationships with familiar persons). This indicates an important area of psychological intervention. HIV infection may affect many levels of an individual’s life, including their mental health. Respectively, HIV treatment needs to adopt a more holistic approach.
Key words: HIV/AIDS infection, mental health problems, requests for psychological support, interpersonal relationships.
A. Peltekis, M. Koulentianou (page 120)