High rates of childhood maltreatment have been documented in HIV-positive men and women. In addition, mental disorders are highly prevalent in both HIV-infected individuals and victims of childhood maltreatment. However, there is a paucity of research investigating the mental health outcomes associated with childhood maltreatment in the context of HIV infection. The present systematic review assessed mental health outcomes in HIV-positive individuals who were victims of childhood maltreatment.
A systematic search of all retrospective, prospective, or clinical trial studies assessing mental health outcomes associated with HIV and childhood maltreatment. The following online databases were searched on 25–31 August 2010: PubMed, Social Science Citation Index, and the Cochrane Library (the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and the Cochrane Developmental, Psychosocial and Learning Problems, HIV/AIDS, and Depression, Anxiety and Neurosis registers).
We identified 34 studies suitable for inclusion. A total of 14,935 participants were included in these studies. A variety of mixed mental health outcomes were reported. The most commonly reported psychiatric disorders among HIV-positive individuals with a history of childhood maltreatment included: substance abuse, major depressive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. An association between childhood maltreatment and poor adherence to antiretroviral regimens was also reported in some studies.
A broad range of adult psychopathology has been reported in studies of HIV-infected individuals with a history of childhood maltreatment. However, a direct causal link cannot be well established. Longer term assessment will better delineate the nature, severity, and temporal relationship of childhood maltreatment to mental health outcomes.