Post-traumatic stress disorder among persons with HIV who engage in heavy alcohol consumption in southwestern Uganda

BMC Psychiatry. 2021 Sep 18;21(1):457. doi: 10.1186/s12888-021-03464-z.


Background: We aimed to describe the prevalence of PTSD symptoms and its associated factors in persons living with HIV (PLWH) in Uganda who engage in heavy alcohol use.

Methods: We analyzed baseline data from the Drinkers Intervention to Prevent Tuberculosis study which enrolls PLWH with latent tuberculosis who engage in heavy alcohol consumption. Using the primary care Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) screening scale from the DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5), probable PTSD was defined as reporting ≥3 of 5 assessed symptoms. We conducted the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption and assessed demographics, smoking, symptoms of depression, and spirituality/religiosity.

Results: Of 421 participants enrolled from 2018 through 2020, the majority (68.2%) were male, median age was 40 years (interquartile range [IQR]: 32-47), and median AUDIT-C score was 6 [IQR: 4-8]. Half (50.1%) of the participants reported ever experiencing a traumatic event, and 20.7% reported ≥3 symptoms of PTSD. The most commonly reported PTSD symptoms in the past 1 month in the entire sample were avoidance (28.3%), nightmares (27.3%), and being constantly on guard (21.6%). In multivariable logistic regression analyses, level of alcohol use was not associated with probable PTSD (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] for each AUDIT-C point: (1.02; 95% CI: 0.92-1.14; p = 0.69); however, lifetime smoking (AOR 1.89; 95% CI: 1.10-3.24) and reporting symptoms of depression (AOR 1.89; 95% CI: 1.04-3.44) were independently associated with probable PTSD.

Conclusions and recommendations: A history of traumatic events and probable PTSD were frequently reported among persons who engage in heavy drinking, living with HIV in Uganda. Level of alcohol use was not associated with probable PTSD in this sample of PLWH with heavy alcohol use, however other behavioral and mental health factors were associated with probable PTSD. These data highlight the high prevalence of PTSD in this group, and the need for screening and interventions for PTSD and mental health problems.

Keywords: Alcohol; HIV; Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Uganda.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / complications
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / epidemiology
  • Uganda / epidemiology