36% wives of HIV+ men suffer mental disorders: Survey

Namrata Devikar
Saturday, 16 December 2017

Pune: Prevalence of Common Mental Disorders (CMD) among women, whose husbands are Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) positive, is 36 per cent as reported by a recent survey. It also stated that the high prevalence calls for counselling of spouses of HIV positive people.

CMD includes depression, anxiety, phobia, panic attacks and 
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The prevalence of these CMD is 10 per cent among normal population.

Pune: Prevalence of Common Mental Disorders (CMD) among women, whose husbands are Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) positive, is 36 per cent as reported by a recent survey. It also stated that the high prevalence calls for counselling of spouses of HIV positive people.

CMD includes depression, anxiety, phobia, panic attacks and 
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The prevalence of these CMD is 10 per cent among normal population.

The survey was conducted among 152 women from Pune by Prayas Health Group, a city-based NGO working in the field of health, along with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The women, who participated in the survey, were from different socio-economic background. These women were uninfected caregivers to HIV positive husbands.

The survey concluded in February noted that the stigma associated with HIV and altered sexual reproductive preferences are increasing the stress level in these women and making them vulnerable to CMD.

Shrinivas Darak, Senior Researcher at Prayas, said, "Many social and personal factors lead to increase in the stress level in these women."

"The thought that the partner has betrayed the woman, along with the fear of getting the infection transmitted and the taboo associated with the disease, does not allow these women to share their emotional trauma with anyone in the family. It is interesting to see that HIV positive men have access to regular counselling as they are linked to various centres. However, caregivers do not get help or counselling and suffer from mental disorders," said Darak.

He suggested a simple step here that can help these caregivers is to communicate with them and share their emotional burden.

"We have come up with a simple 10-point questionnaire, which can be used by counsellors to help these women. The responses to the questionnaire will guide the investigator to ask the caregiver for further examination," added Darak.

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