Addressing the mental health needs of children affected by HIV in Rwanda: validation of a rapid depression screening tool for children 7–14 years old

Jan 29, 2021; Springer link.


Depression in children presents a significant health burden to society and often co-exists with chronic illnesses, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Research has demonstrated that 10–37% of children and adolescents living with HIV also suffer from depression. Low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) shoulder a disproportionate burden of HIV among other health challenges, but reliable estimates of co-morbid depression are lacking in these settings. Prior studies in Rwanda, a LMIC of 12 million people in East Africa, found that 25% of children living with HIV met criteria for depression. Though depression may negatively affect adherence to HIV treatment among children and adolescents, most LMICs fail to routinely screen children for mental health problems due to a shortage of trained health care providers. While some screening tools exist, they can be costly to implement in resource-constrained settings and are often lacking a contextual appropriateness.

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