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UN seek better integration of HIV, mental health services

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organisation have called for better integration of HIV and mental health care services, noting that it would help improve quality of life.

The UN agencies made the call in a publication launched on Monday.

They noted that while patients with mental health conditions are at higher risk of getting infected with HIV, individuals who live with HIV also have a higher risk of developing mental health conditions.

The Director of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, Dévora Kestel, said, “Integrated approaches for HIV and mental health lead to better health outcomes, overall well-being and quality of life.”

“In addition, such approaches don’t have to be expensive,” she said. 

The Director of the Global HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programmes at WHO, Meg Doherty, in the publication also said, “This new publication successfully brings together tools, best practices, case studies, and guidelines to help countries integrate mental health and HIV services while improving access to care for the most vulnerable.”

“The publication is primarily intended for national and local policy-makers, and programme implementers at all levels.

“Organisations working on provision of mental health and HIV services more broadly will also find it useful.

“Beyond HIV, the considerations in the publication may be relevant to services for HIV comorbidities such as tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infections,” UNAIDS and WHO said.

Punch/Editing by Tina Oyinsan