Wives of HIV positive men likely to suffer from mental illness, states study

The survey underlines that although an HIV positive husband get access to regular counselling, the mental health of the wife remains unaddressed. This contributes to the rise in stress levels among the women who act as primary caregivers for them

Wives of HIV positive men likely to suffer from mental illness, states study

A recent survey conducted by a Pune based NGO and ICMR, found that prevalence of Common Mental Disorders (CMD) in women whose husband are HIV positive is much more than its prevalence among the normal population.

The survey underlines that when an HIV positive husband get access to regular counselling, the mental health of the wife remains unaddressed.

While the prevalence of CMD’s is around 10 per cent in the normal population, the survey findings suggests around 36 per cent of women whose husbands are HIV positive are suffering from one or another CMD’s.

The survey revealed that the increase in stress levels in these women can be attributed to the stigma associated with HIV and their altered sexual reproductive preferences. This is making them vulnerable to CMD’s.

Prayas, a Pune based NGO working in the field of health; along with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), conducted the survey last year, the analysis was done in February, this year.

In total, 152 women from different socio-economic background residing in Pune participated in the survey. All of them are uninfected caregivers whose husbands are HIV positive.

Shriniwas Darak, Senior researcher at Prayas, said, “The thought that your partner has betrayed you, the fear of getting this infection transmitted and the taboo associated HIV, which does not allow these women to share their emotional trauma with anyone in the family and many such factors lead to increase in stress in these women. While HIV positive men do get regular counselling, it is caregivers who also suffer from mental disorders, but do not get help.”

The NGO prepared a 10 point questionnaire which will be circulated to different hospitals and health centres. The responses to the questionnaire will guide the investigator to examine the caregiver. The women in the survey were found to be suffering from CMD’s like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder,etc.

“When the caregivers do not get any counselling and medical aid, in our survey it was seen that they were most vulnerable to the CMD’s,” added Darak.