Alcohol use and psychiatric morbidity in people living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria
Background: Concerns have been raised about the increasing use of alcohol among the people living with HIV/AID in Nigeria. A better understanding of the source and prevention of alcohol use in these people may serve as a useful strategy for reducing the burden associated with HIV/AIDS.
Aims: This study assesses the level of alcohol use and psychological distress, manifesting as anxiety and/or depression in people living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, to determine the possible source of alcohol.
Method: A convenient sample of 315 people living with HIV/AIDS referred from the rural communities were randomly assessed at the HIV Clinic of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital for the general health status, alcohol use and psychological distress manifesting as anxiety and/or depression, using a short version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (Audit) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).
Results: Of the 315 persons living with the HIV/AIDS, 108 (34.3%) were males and 207 (65.7%) females. The mean score of respondents who met the cut-off of 2 and above on GHQ-12 was 5.6 ±2.16, suggestive of 'caseness'; while those below cut-off point <2 was 1.19 ±0.15, suggestive of no case. The mean score of respondents who met < 7 on AUDIT but less than 2 on GHQ-12 was 4.37±1.38; while those who met ≥8 on AUDIT and above 2 on GHQ-12 was 12.23±3.17. The mean anxiety score was 3.16 ±2.08, while depression was 9.16 ±1.92, suggestive of anxiety and depression respectively.
Conclusion: This study shows that alcohol use is common in people living with HIV/AIDS in our environment. Its association with a high level of psychological distress may need to pay greater attention to psychiatric comorbidities in people living with HIV/AIDS.