Amazing new research has revealed that anti-retrovirals (ARVs) in HIV infected people can reverse mental illness. HIV-infection has been known to cause mental illness through the central nervous system, with about 40% of Aids sufferers having major depression in South Africa.
Dr Michelle Rogers, a psychiatrist, says: "There were several really dramatic findings. I think the most notable of those is the incredible response that patients have to ARVs in the advanced stages of HIV when they have mental illness."
However there is a lack of such research in SA as well as in other developing countries. Aids treatment initiatives has yet to include mental healthcare.
Dr Soraya Seedat from the Stellenbosch University, says: "It has changed the way in which we address treatment and I think psychiatrists have become even more aware of issues of informed consent, voluntary counselling, and testing in his population, particularly because they are vulnerable and their psychological state is already compromised."
According to the South African Society of Psychiatrists HIV is changing the face of psychiatry but even in this year's International Aids Conference, the mentally ill living with HIV/Aids was not high up on the agenda. However this is soon expected to change with their growing numbers soon demanding the attention of government and Aids activist groups.