Rodolphe Mérieux Laboratory of Haiti

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology and alcohol use among HIV-seropositive adults in Haiti

Dévieux JG, Malow RM, Attonito JM, Jean-Gilles M, Rosenberg R, Gaston S, Saint-Jean G, Deschamps MM

AIDS Care. 2013 Feb 4. [Epub ahead of print]


Psychological trauma resulting from natural disasters can negatively affect the health of persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH). This study examined relationships of alcohol use and exposure to the 2010 Haiti earthquake on symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among HIV-positive adults enrolled in an intervention study. Baseline data were collected from male and female PLWH, 19-56 years old on: alcohol consumption and related harms; anxiety; and coping strategies used to deal with HIV. Two to three months post earthquake, data were collected from 104 of the study participants on PTSD and earthquake-related impacts. Most participants had less than a secondary education (66%) and very low income (92%≤H$10,000 or≤US$1250/year). Over two-thirds of participants felt at some point that they should cut down on drinking. Fifty-two (50.5%) met criteria for PTSD. More than 83% lost their belongings and 64% had someone close to them hurt or killed during the earthquake. Bivariate analysis showed that women, younger participants, those who lost all belongings, and those with greater overall alcohol impact were more likely to report PTSD symptoms. In the multivariate model, participants more likely to meet PTSD criteria (p<0.05) were those who reported feeling a need to cut down on drinking (OR=3.14, [CI=1.16, 8.49]) and participants who used behavioral disengagement as a coping mechanism (OR=1.49, [CI=1.15, 1.92]). Following a natural disaster, it is important to address trauma-related mental health needs of PLWH – particularly women and individuals who abuse alcohol.

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