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Characteristics of psychosocial support seeking following HIV diagnosis in western Kenya

Enbal Shacham, PhD, MEd1, Michael Reece, PhD2, Patrick O. Monahan, PhD3, Violet Yebei, MA4, W.D. Owino Ong'Or, MD5, Otieno Omollo, MD5, and Claris Ojwang5. (1) Applied Health Science, Indiana University, HPER 116, Bloomington, IN 47405, 8128553627, eshacham@indiana.edu, (2) Dept of Applied Health Science, Indiana University-Bloomington, 1025 E. 7th St, HPER 116, Bloomington, IN 47405, (3) Division of Biostatistics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Cancer Center Pavillion, 380G RT, Indianapolis, IN 46202, (4) Department of Sociology, Indiana University, 130 S. Woodlawn, Bloomington, IN 47405, (5) Faculty of Health Sciences, Moi University, PO BOX 4606, Eldoret, Kenya

BACKGROUND: While patterns of psychosocial support seeking by individuals living with HIV have been well documented in the U.S., little is known about those who seek psychosocial support in African countries working to strengthen their HIV care and prevention infrastructures. METHODS: Data were collected from 394 individuals living in Western Kenya who had self-enrolled into one of the HIV-related psychosocial support groups of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention program. Analyses were conducted to explore the social, medical, and psychological characteristics of those seeking support. RESULTS: Of participants, 94.9% had received an HIV diagnosis and 45.9% had also been diagnosed with AIDS. Participants' mean CD4 count was 345, and the mean time since receiving the initial HIV diagnosis was 27.9 months, with 39.4% enrolling into psychosocial support within 12 months of diagnosis. Most participants were female (72.6%), married (38.3%) and had children living in their home (84.6%). Only 40% of married individuals had disclosed their serostatus to their spouse. Men presented with higher levels of psychological distress than did women, with 20.6% meeting the criteria for psychological distress for at least one psychological distress dimension compared to 7.4% of women. CONCLUSIONS: It appears that the majority of those seeking psychosocial services are likely to face a range of issues more closely associated with social functioning (such as serostatus disclosure) than psychological distress. However, for those meeting clinical criteria for intense levels of psychological distress, facilitating linkages between psychosocial support programs and psychiatric assessment and treatment may be necessary.

Learning Objectives: Participants will be able to

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Social Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

HIV/AIDS: A Focus On Africa

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA