Exploring Risk Factors Affecting the Mental Health of Refugee Women Living with HIV

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Oct 22;15(10):2326. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15102326.


Little is known about how the intersection of being a forced migrant and living with HIV can contribute to the development or exacerbation of pre-existing mental conditions. This study is set in this context and it aims to explore specific risk factors affecting the mental health of refugee women living with HIV. A total of eight refugee women living with HIV took part in the study; they were individually interviewed, and their transcripts were thematically analyzed. The overall findings indicated that participants' mental health was impaired by multiple stressors associated with their conditions, such as racial discrimination, HIV-related stigma, including from health professionals, loneliness, and resettlement adversities. These all represent threats to public health, as they discourage individuals from engaging with adequate health/mental health services. Despite their situation, participants had not received psychological interventions and their healthcare was reduced to managing the physical symptoms of HIV. Participants indicated their need to take part in group interventions that could promote their mental health and social recovery. These findings are relevant to raising awareness about the specific risk factors affecting refugee women living with HIV and to provide evidence for public health interventions based on this specific population's need.

Keywords: HIV; discrimination; mental health; refugees women; stigma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • HIV
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Racism
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Networking
  • Social Stigma
  • Transients and Migrants