In developing countries like Ghana, people with serious psychiatric disorders do not have equal access to health care as normal non-mentally challenged people do. Moreover, mental health care generally focuses on physical health screening, health education, and improving access to treatment in primary and secondary care to the detriment of sexual health needs including prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Studies have shown the risk of blood-borne virus infections such as HIV, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus has increased in the last few decades among people with psychiatric disorders. This study sought to determine the prevalence of HIV, HCV, HBV and syphilis infections in patients with psychiatric disorders.
In a cross-sectional study, 200 inpatients of Ankaful psychiatric hospital, aged ≥ 18 years diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, psychiatric disorders, and substance abuse and dependence disorders formed the study population. Questionnaire interviews were conducted to obtain personal information and socio-demographic characteristics. Serological tests were performed on serum and plasma samples of participants to determine the prevalence of HIV, HCV, HBV and syphilis.
Seroprevalence for HIV was 5% (10/200), HBV was 9.5% (19/200), syphilis was 13.5% (27/200) and HCV was 2% (4/200). Results indicated a significant association between Schizophrenia diagnosis and the seropositivity for anti-HIV antibodies, anti-HBV antibodies and anti-T. pallidum antibodies. Co-infections and multiple infections among study participants showed 1.5% (3/200) seroprevalence of HBV and HIV co-infections. HBV and syphilis co-infections was 1.0% (2/200) and HIV and Syphilis co-infection was 0.5% (1/200). HCV and syphilis co-infection was also 0.5% (1/200). One patient had HIV, HBV and Syphilis 0.5% (1/200). The majority of the study subjects who tested positive for HBV, HCV and syphilis had no history of sex trafficking.
The current study shows that people with psychiatric disorders in Ghana are at increased risk of blood-borne viruses and STIs compared to the general population. Our results could form the baseline data for decision making by the health authorities, as there is an urgent need for developing prevention and care strategies for psychiatric patients in Ghana.