Screening for Traumatic Experiences and Mental Health Distress Among Women in HIV Care in Cape Town, South Africa.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Traumatic events can negatively affect clinical outcomes among HIV positive women, particularly when those events result in ongoing psychological distress. Consequently, there have been calls to integrate screening and treatment of traumatic experiences and associated mental health disorders into HIV care. In South Africa, screening for traumatic experiences and mental health is not a routine part of HIV care. The goal of this study was to examine the prevalence of traumatic experiences and mental health distress among women in an HIV clinic in Cape Town, South Africa, and to explore the acceptability of routine screening in this setting. Seventy HIV positive women were screened following referral from health care workers in the clinic. Among the participants, 51% reported a history of sexual abuse and 75% reported physical intimate partner violence (physical IPV). Among all participants, 36% met screening criteria for depression; among those with traumatic experiences (n = 57), 70% met screening criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Compared with reporting no sexual abuse or physical IPV, having experienced both sexual abuse and physical IPV was significantly associated with higher odds of depression, while reporting either sexual abuse or physical IPV individually was not significantly associated with increased odds of depression. Among women reporting sexual abuse, 61% were disclosing their experience for the first time during the screening; 31% of women with physical IPV experience were disclosing for the first time. Overall, 98% of participants thought screening should be routine and extended to all women as part of clinic care. Screening women for sexual abuse and physical IPV may be an important component of ensuring HIV care engagement.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Yemeke, TT; Sikkema, KJ; Watt, MH; Ciya, N; Robertson, C; Joska, JA

Published Date

  • November 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 21-22

Start / End Page

  • 4842 - 4862

PubMed ID

  • 29294819

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5936676

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1552-6518

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0886-2605

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0886260517718186


  • eng