The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of suicidal ideation in patients who were tested for HIV-infection and whether along with their HIV status, age and gender influenced their risk for suicidal ideation. The sample consisted of 189 patients who attended a voluntary HIV counseling and testing clinic (VCT) at a general state hospital in Durban, South Africa. Their mean age at baseline was 34.2 years, with an age range of between 16-79 years. Seropositivity, age and gender were significantly associated with suicidal ideation. The majority of these patients were in the younger age group, and young males had a 1.8 times higher risk for suicidal ideation than females. Although risk factors for seropositive-related suicidal ideation can be complex and multi-factorial, this study identified a young age and male gender as important high risk factors in the sample studied. It is recommended that all, but especially young male HIV-infected patients seen at a VCT clinic be screened for suicidal ideation and that early intervention to prevent subsequent suicides or suicidal attempts be included in pre- and post-test HIV counseling.
Keywords: HIV-test results; age; gender; suicidal ideation; voluntary counseling and testing.