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Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2012 Dec;9(4):344-50. doi: 10.1007/s11904-012-0139-3.

Interventions to improve psychological functioning and health outcomes of HIV-infected individuals with a history of trauma or PTSD.

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Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, PO Box 19063, Tygerberg, 7505, Cape Town, South Africa.


The experience of early or later life trauma in HIV-positive adults can have devastating mental and physical health consequences. Women bear the brunt of this double burden. Depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcohol and drug use disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders documented, both in infected women and men, in high-, middle-, and low-income countries. Traumatized individuals, particularly those with childhood sexual abuse characterized by repeated traumatization, are at high risk of engaging in risky behaviors, including substance abuse and sexual promiscuity. These issues are further compounded by stigma, discrimination, poverty, and low social support. While there is a significant need to pay more attention to psychiatric and psychological outcomes in the context of HIV-trauma and improve screening for traumatic stress in HIV care settings, there are currently few treatment and secondary prevention studies. Group cognitive-behavioral strategies, including prolonged exposure, coping skills training, and stress management have, to date, shown some evidence for efficacy in HIV-positive individuals with childhood trauma and in those with PTSD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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