XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Feasibility and impact of a psychosocial support group program for HIV-affected youth and their parents/ caregivers in Haiti - implications for HIV services in resource-poor settings

Presented by Eddy Eustache (Haiti).

J. Mukherjee1,2,3, E. Eustache4, C. Oswald1, P. Surkan5, E. Louis4, F. Scanlan1, S. Hook1, A. Casey1, M. Smith Fawzi1,2,3

1Partners In Health, Boston, United States, 2Harvard Medical School, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Boston, United States, 3Brigham and Women's Hospital, Division of Global Health Equity, Boston, United States, 4Zanmi Lasante Sociomedical Complex, Cange, Haiti, 5John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Baltimore, United States

Background: A family-centered psychosocial support group model (Project TALC - Teens and Adults Learning to Communicate) that has demonstrated effectiveness in the U.S. was adapted for use in central Haiti with HIV-affected youth and their caregivers. The goal of the study was to examine the feasibility of implementing the twenty-session program in this setting and to assess the possible effect on psychological distress and psychosocial functioning among the youth and their caregivers.
Methods: Families determined to be 'high risk' according to data from a baseline survey were included in the intervention. For 168 youth who received services at baseline, 130 caregivers participated. Prevalence of psychological symptoms and degree of psychosocial functioning were assessed pre- and post-intervention.
Results: Caregivers demonstrated significant reductions in depressive symptoms, including thoughts of suicide (27% vs. 8%; p=0.0002), feeling sad (74% to 47%; p< 0.0001), and feeling hopeless about the future (57% to 35%, p =0.01) comparing pre- versus post-intervention estimates. Youth affected by HIV also demonstrated significant reductions in somatic and depressive symptoms (Figure 1). Prevalence of poor psychosocial functioning related to symptoms among youth declined from 51% to 16% (p< 0.0001).
Conclusions: The TALC psychosocial support program demonstrated feasibility in central Haiti, a very resource-poor setting. Preliminary results suggest that youth affected by HIV/AIDS and their caregivers have high levels of psychological distress that can be addressed through a family-centered psychosocial support group intervention with the goals of enhancing coping skills, improving social support and strengthening relationships of HIV-affected youth and their caregivers.

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