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Psychological distress patterns of Latinos accessing HIV-related mental health care

Tania Basta, MPH1, Michael Reece, PhD, MPH2, Allison Franks, MS, NCC3, and Enbal Shacham, MEd2. (1) Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, The University of Georgia, 300 River Road, Athens, GA 30602, 706-583-0692, tbasta@uga.edu, (2) Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University, HPER Building 116, 1025 E. Seventh Street, Bloomington, IN 47405-7109, (3) Positive Impact, Inc., 139 Ralph McGill Blvd., Suite 301, Atlanta, GA 30308

Background: Latinos in the U.S. have increasingly been affected by HIV. While the psychological implications of HIV infection have been well documented among non-Latino populations, little is known about the nature of such issues among Latinos with HIV and whether cultural factors might influence their likelihood of enrolling in mental health care. Objective: This study sought to better understand the mental health issues presented by Latinos self-enrolling into HIV-related mental health care. Methods: Data from 942 individuals living with HIV, collected over 10 years at an HIV-related mental health clinic, were analyzed to assess associations between ethnicity and psychological distress. Results: Latinos, when compared to Caucasian clients, reported significantly lower levels of psychological distress on measures of obsessive-compulsive behavior (t=3.70, p<.004), interpersonal sensitivity (t=3.19, p<.004), depression (t=4.21, p< .004), psychoticism (t=3.90, p<.004), anxiety (t=4.26, p<.004), and a global, composite measure of psychological distress (t=3.96, p<.004). Conclusions: These findings suggest that Latinos either: a) presented for care with less intense levels of psychological distress, b) that they may have underreported psychological distress symptoms, or c) that their may be issues with the validity of current measures used to assess psychological distress among Latinos due to cultural factors. As HIV service providers continue to develop services for Latinos, it is necessary for the field to pursue an active research agenda in this area that attempts to better understand these issues and link research findings to the programs developed by community-based providers.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Latino Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

HIV/AIDS Research Roundtable: Latino and Hispanic Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA