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Mental health, HIV and AIDS

Mental health is central to building a healthy, inclusive and productive society, according to the World Health Organization. But WHO also regards HIV/AIDS as the most demanding public health and social challenge of the last 25 years. Perhaps surprisingly, the connection between these two issues is rarely made in the minds of the public, policy makers or health professionals, and mental health concerns are often overlooked in programs for HIV prevention and care. Yet mental illness is inextricably linked with HIV/AIDS, as a causal factor and as a consequence, while mental health treatment and support for people living with HIV/AIDS is key to both improving their quality of life and preventing the further spread of the infection.

The mental health problems associated with HIV infection are well documented. Mental illness and addictions increase vulnerability to HIV infection, while being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS can have profound effects on mental wellbeing - through the associated stigma and discrimination, as well as through the progression of the disease itself. Around three-quarters of people with HIV/AIDS will have at least one psychiatric disorder in their lifetime (Baingana et al 2005). The poor economic and social conditions that underpin burgeoning HIV infection rates also underpin proliferating mental health problems.

Mental health, HIV and AIDS expert centre is established by Global Initiative on Psychiatry and IAN to improve the quality of life and to diminish the suffering of people living with HIV/AIDS and their carers/communities. Expert centre in Serbia is one of nine centres in the region of South Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia .

Expert centre on HIV, AIDS and mental health strives for increased knowledge regarding the cross-over between mental health and HIV/AIDS, and promotes the development of a comprehensive system of mental health assistance to people affected by HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, it supports efforts to increase understanding of the general public and health professionals and to decrease stigma associated with mental illness and HIV/AIDS. The centre works on research and training, advocacy and awareness building, networking and a wide variety of other interventions.

For more information please contact Marina Stojanovic .



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