Improved management of depression and other mental health disorders has the potential to improve the outcomes of HIV treatment programs, Pamela Collins of the National Institute of Mental Health told the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2017) in Seattle last week. Mental health treatment should be integrated into HIV services in resource-limited settings, she said.
Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, lung disease and other non-communicable diseases have an increasing impact on the health and quality of life of people living with HIV. Health services in low- and middle-income countries have been slow to implement programmes to prevent, screen for and treat these diseases, but a number of projects have shown that this work can be integrated with HIV care.
Dr Collins noted that mental health disorders are now considered alongside non-communicable diseases in the third Sustainable Development Goal. But she said that whereas other non-communicable diseases increasingly affect people as they get older, the greatest burden of mental health problems falls in adolescence and young adulthood. Around three-quarters of mental health disorders have begun by the age of 24.