Despite much attention in developed countries, little is known about the relationship between mental health problems and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Africa. The objectives of the current study were a) to investigate how people in an African community severely affected by HIV view the mental health effects of the epidemic and b) to use these data to investigate the local construct validity of the Western concepts of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Ethnographic methods—free listing and key-informant interviews—were used among participants from the Rakai and Masaka districts of southwest Uganda. Participants described two independent depression-like syndromes (Yo’kwekyawa and Okwekubaziga) resulting from the HIV epidemic. No syndromes similar to posttraumatic stress disorder were detected. We conclude that local people recognize depression syndromes and consider them pertinent consequences of the HIV epidemic.
1 Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Outpatient Research Program, University of Maryland School of Medicine, P.O. Box 21247, Baltimore, Maryland. Send reprint requests to Mr. Wilk.
2 Center for International, Emergency, Disaster, and Refugee Studies, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.
This work was part of the Complex Emergency Response and Transition Initiative (CERTI), a project of the Africa Bureau of USAID. The study was conducted in collaboration with World Vision Uganda.