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Adolescents, depression, integrated care, Peru

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Background: Adolescents living with HIV (ALWH) are disproportionally impacted by depression, experiencing worse HIV outcomes. Integrated depression and HIV care may support antiretroviral adherence. This study pilot tested for proof of concept a basic depression care pathway for ALWH to inform depression care integration with HIV services in Peru.

Methods: ALWH were screened for depression with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). Participants with PHQ-9 scores of ⩾10 or suicidal ideation (SI) were eligible for Psychological First Aid (PFA) delivered by non-mental health specialists. Participants with PHQ-9 re-assessments of ⩾20 or SI were referred to specialized services.

Results: Twenty-eight (11 female, 17 male) ALWH aged 15–21 years participated; n = 20 (71%) identified as heterosexual. Most (18/28) acquired HIV at birth. Baseline PHQ-9 scores were 0–4, n = 3 (11%); 5–9, n = 9 (32%); 10–14, n = 10 (36%); 15–19, n = 4 (14%); and 20–27, n = 2 (7%). Eleven participants (40%) reported SI. Among participants with PHQ-9 > 4, 92% (23/25) were not severe. Of the 21 (75%) of participants eligible for PFA, n = 9 (32%) accepted at least one session, of which n = 3 (33%) were linked to specialized care.

Conclusions: A simple care pathway operationalizing depression screening and non-specialist delivered emotional support is a first step toward integrated depression and HIV care for ALWH.

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Global Mental Health, v. 8, art. e17

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