Integrating Mental Health and HIV Services in Zimbabwean Communities: A Nurse and Community-led Approach to Reach the Most Vulnerable

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Alcohol use and depression negatively impact adherence, retention in care, and HIV progression, and people living with HIV (PLWH) have disproportionately higher depression rates. In developing countries, more than 76% of people with mental health issues receive no treatment. We hypothesized that stepped-care mental health/HIV integration provided by multiple service professionals in Zimbabwe would be acceptable and feasible. A three-phase mixed-method design was used with a longitudinal cohort of 325 nurses, community health workers, and traditional medicine practitioners in nine communities. During Phase 3, 312 PLWH were screened by nurses for mental health symptoms; 28% were positive. Of 59 PLWH screened for harmful alcohol and substance use, 36% were positive. Community health workers and traditional medicine practitioners screened 123 PLWH; 54% were positive for mental health symptoms and 29% were positive for alcohol and substance abuse. Findings indicated that stepped-care was acceptable and feasible for all provider types.

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