Monday, February 8, 2016

Correlates of Emotional and Behavioural Problems in Children with Perinatally Acquired HIV in Cape Town, South Africa

In the antiretroviral era, youth perinatally infected with HIV (PHIV+) are surviving into adulthood and are at risk for emotional and behavioural problems. Few studies of these problems have been conducted in low- and middle-income countries and even fewer in sub-Saharan Africa. 

The aims of this study were to provide a quantitative description of emotional and behavioural problems in a group of PHIV+ youth (n = 78) in South Africa compared with a group of demographically matched HIV-negative controls (n = 30) and to identify correlates of emotional and behavioural problems. A cross-sectional study was conducted employing participants from community and hospital-based clinics. Emotional and behavioural problems were assessed using the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL). Several measures were used to assess demographic, biological, cognitive and contextual correlates of problem behaviours. Youth were compared by HIV status on demographic, cognitive and contextual variables as well as the Total Problems and subscale scores of the CBCL. Multivariate comparisons of the influence of contextual and cognitive variables on CBCL Total Problems scores were performed using a stepwise linear regression analytic procedure. In this study, there were no significant differences in between-group comparisons for the prevalence of Internalizing, 

Externalizing and Total Problems in the PHIV+ youth and control group at the clinical and borderline cut-off ranges of the CBCL. Caregiver depression was the only significant predictor of greater Total Problems scores in the full model, after controlling for age and gender (F = 8.57, df = 5.102, P < .01). An interaction between HIV status and caregiver depression was observed (t = -2.20, P = .03), with follow-up within-group analyses confirming that caregiver depression predicted greater Total Problems scores both in HIV-negative youth (β = 0.61, P < .001), and to a lesser extent, in HIV-positive youth (β = 0.25, P < .001). 

This study highlights the need for adequate screening of depression in the caregivers of HIV-infected youth.

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By:  Louw KA1, Ipser J1, Phillips N1, Hoare J1.
1a Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health , University of Cape Town , Cape Town , South Africa.

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