Mental health and HIV: research priorities related to the implementation and scale up of 'treat all' in sub-Saharan Africa

J Virus Erad. 2018 Nov 15;4(Suppl 2):16-25.


World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines call for antiretroviral therapy (ART) for all people living with HIV (PLWH) regardless of CD4 cell count, a policy often referred to as 'treat all'. This article seeks to: (1) provide an overview of mental health research among PLWH in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and interventions or strategies to address comorbid mental illness among those living with HIV; and (2) describe key mental health-related recommendations to inform the successful implementation and scale up of 'treat all' policies in SSA. An initial set of mental health-related research recommendations was developed by a working group comprising investigators affiliated with the International epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA) consortium. Recommendations were shared with those who attended the All-Africa IeDEA Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda in November 2017 and refined following the meeting. Recommendations reflect a need for epidemiological research to examine the prevalence, incidence, and impact of mental health multimorbidities on HIV treatment outcomes, intervention research to examine the extent to which improving the mental health of people living with HIV enhances HIV treatment outcomes, and implementation science research to evaluate promising models of integrated mental health and HIV care. Key research recommendations can advance understanding and treatment of mental illness among those living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

Keywords: mental health, HIV, Africa, treat all.

Publication types

  • Editorial