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Impact of persistent physical symptoms on the development of psychiatric morbidity in hiv positive patients; need for early identification and treatment

Author: 
Chukwujekwu, D.C., Ogbe, F.E. and Lasebikan, V.O.
Subject Area: 
Health Sciences
Abstract: 

Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection tends to immune suppression which progresses terminally to death. The introduction of the highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) has changed the status of HIV infection from that of a rapidly fatal disorder to a chronic one with persisting physical symptoms. Aim: The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of persistent physical symptoms on psychiatric morbidity in HIV positive patients. Methods: Using a systematic sampling method, 353 subjects were recruited into two groups; HIV positive subjects from the RVD clinic and HIV negative subjects from the GOPD clinic. They were assessed using a self-designed questionnaire to elicit socio-demographic and clinical variables. The subjects were screened for psychological distress with a 12 item General Health Questionnaire and diagnoses made using Present State Examination (PSE) manual (version 10). Data was analysed using the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS, version 15). Results: The study shows that there was a significant difference in the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity in HIV positive patients when compared with controls. Significantly prevalent physical symptoms among the patients with psychiatric morbidity were fits, cough, dermatological lesions, chronic pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and fever. Via logistic regression, “persistent fever” was identified as a risk factor for psychiatric morbidity. Conclusion: The findings from this study underscore among other things, the need for a high index of suspicion and early identification of cases of psychiatric morbidity among HIV positive patients. This will definitely translate to a more favourable management outcome in the long run.

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