Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health

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Identifying community risk factors for HIV among South African adolescents with mental health problems: A qualitative study of parental perceptions

Ashraf Kagee, Geri Donenberg, Alicia Davids, Redwaan Vermaak, Leickness Simbayi, Catherine Ward, Pamela Naidoo, Jacky Mthembu


High risk sexual behaviour, alcohol and drug use, and mental health problems combine to yield high levels of HIV-risk behaviour among adolescents with mental health problems. In South Africa, little research has been conducted on parental perspectives of HIV-risk among this population. We conducted a series of focus group discussions with 28 mothers of adolescents receiving services at two mental health clinics in South Africa to identify, from their perspectives, the key community problems facing their children. Participants indicated that HIV remained a serious threat to their adolescent children’s well-being, in addition to substance abuse, early sexual debut, and teenage pregnancy. These social problems were mentioned as external to their household dynamics, and thus seemingly beyond the purview of the parent–adolescent relationship. These data have implications for the design of family-based interventions to ameliorate the factors associated with HIV-risk among youth receiving mental health services.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2014, 26(3): 165–176

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