Ethnic inequalities in mental health and socioeconomic status among older women living with HIV: Results from the PRIME Study

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Objectives Women living with HIV in the UK are an ethnically diverse group with significant psychosocial challenges. Increasing numbers are reaching older age. We describe psychological and socioeconomic factors among women with HIV in England aged 45-60 and explore associations with ethnicity. Methods Analysis of cross-sectional data on 724 women recruited to the PRIME Study. Psychological symptoms were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire 4 and social isolation with a modified Duke-UNC Functional Social Support Scale. Results Black African (BA) women were more likely than Black Caribbean or White British (WB) women to have a university education (48.3%, 27.0%, 25.7%, respectively, p<0.001), but were not more likely to be employed (68.4%, 61.4%, 65.2%, p=0.56) and were less likely to have enough money to meet their basic needs (56.4%, 63.0%, 82.9%, p<0.001). BA women were less likely to report being diagnosed with depression than WB women (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.40, p<0.001) but more likely to report current psychological distress (aOR 3.34, p<0.05). Conclusions We report high levels of poverty, psychological distress and social isolation in this ethnically diverse group of midlife women with HIV, especially among those who were BA. Despite being more likely to experience psychological distress, BA women were less likely to have been diagnosed with depression suggesting a possible inequity in access to mental health services. Holistic HIV care requires awareness of the psychosocial needs of older women living with HIV, which may be more pronounced in racially minoritised communities, and prompt referral for support including psychology, peer support and advice about benefits.

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Solomon, D., Tariq, S., Alldis, J., Burns, F., Gilson, R., Sabin, C., … Dhairyawan, R. (2022). Ethnic inequalities in mental health and socioeconomic status among older women living with HIV: Results from the PRIME Study. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 98(2), 128–131.

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