229166 Increases in HIV incidence associated with post-disaster depression in the New Orleans Area

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jasmine Fournier, BA , Health Department of the City of New Orleans, The Office of Health Policy and AIDS Funding, New Orleans, LA
Risk behaviors for contracting HIV have increased due to post-disaster related stress leading to a rise in the number of HIV cases in the New Orleans area. Depression and emotional distress are substantial influences on HIV related risk behaviors for HIV positive persons and persons who do not know their HIV status. Increased rates of depression in the New Orleans area have lead to increases in HIV related risk behavior and thus show an association to increases in HIV incidence over the past four years.

Post-disaster stressors such as environmental instability, coping with the loss of lives and property, and the breakdown of neighborhood social networks due to the exodus from the storm led to a substantial rise in rates of depression. Further, stigma within the African American community around the utilization of mental health services creates a barrier to accessing treatment for the largely minority population. In the years leading up to hurricane Katrina, the relative rate of increase (RRI) in HIV incidence was decreasing consistently from 7% in 1998 to 3% in 2003. Following the disaster in 2004, the RRI in incidence began to steadily increase from 4% in 2005 back to 7% in 2008. New Orleans residents are seven times more likely to be depressed than pre-Katrina with two-thirds of evacuees meeting the criteria for acute stress disorder. Treatment for mental health issues are severely limited due to State budget cuts as the number of mental health beds has diminished from 364 in 2004 to 133 currently.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the relationship between post-Katrina related depression and mental illness and increases in HIV incidence in New Orleans Discuss the association between risk behavior, depression, and HIV

Keywords: HIV Risk Behavior, HIV/AIDS

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a programmatic monitor working with persons living with HIV/AIDS as well as an epidemiology student at Tulane University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.