In this post, I wanted to share an interesting excerpt from a recent paper I wrote about the burden of disease for one of my public health courses because it opened my eye to how chronic illness can have detrimental effects on global populations. I chose to write about Human Immunodeficiency Virus because of my past experience working with HIV positive patients and my interest in infectious disease.
Chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS have multiple repercussions in addition to the detrimental consequences of the disease itself which can yet again bring another burden to the effected country. A paper written by Freeman et al. in 2007 discusses factors associated with prevalence of mental disorders in people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa. After analyzing the results of a structured interview, the authors of this study concluded that the prevalence of mental health disorder was evident in 43.7% of people infected with the disease. Such findings seem a bit alarming given that less than half of people in African countries require more than just the standard antiretroviral therapy given their mental health status. Additionally, the authors also concluded that there was clearly a lack of social support for such individuals given that many were discriminated due to their HIV status by family or their communities. Such discrimination is unfortunately apparent globally but more so among countries experiencing high rates of HIV and AIDS.
Therefore, it’s important to mention that in addition to mental health resources, overall education regarding the virus and its progression should be provided to communities globally to not only spread awareness but help create support systems for those infected.