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The psychology of Human Immunodeficiency Virus: a systematic review of the affect that Human Immunodeficiency Virus /Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome has on the mental health of children and adolescents.

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Background: Child and adolescent mental health (CAMH) is frequently neglected, although it is estimated that one in every five of them has a mental condition. Viruses like HIV is an example of a potential warning sign that can lead to a child or adolescent developing mental health problems. Method: This paper is a systematic review and narrative synthesis of quantitative studies conducted on HIV/AIDS and mental health in children and adolescents within the last decade (2012-2022). Databases such as Google Scholar, Ebscohost, Springer, Sabinet, GALE Cengage, APA PsycNet, and SAGE Research techniques were searched and a total of 16 empirical studies that examined the affect that a positive HIV diagnosis has on the mental health of youth were considered. Study components were recorded in the form of a matrix table which included: year of publication, authors, title of article, aims of the study, sample, socio-ecological level of influence, key findings as well as identified interventions. Conceptual content analysis was then applied as a method of studying and retrieving meaningful information such as the frequency of key mental health themes and mental health conditions pertaining to CAMH, that emerged in the primary literature, which was summarised in the matrix table. Results: A total of 90 articles were retrieved via an online desktop search and through rigorous screening based on predetermined inclusion and exclusion criteria, only 16 articles deemed eligible for inclusion and further analysis. Conclusion: An HIV positive (HIV+) diagnosis can influence CAMH on an individual-level, family-level, community-level and structural-level. In addition, CAMH can be affected by the cognitive, emotional, and/or behavioural viewpoint. Furthermore, several interventions that were identified on the various levels displayed on the socio-ecological model deem beneficial in enhancing the mental health of HIV+ children and adolescents.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.