Equity in HIV mental health research: a call to action

Arish Mudra Rakshasa-Loots*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The brain remains a key reservoir of latent HIV infection, and people living with HIV (PLWH) face a high risk for cognitive impairment and psychiatric disorders. Although the burden of HIV infection and co-morbidities is greatest in the Global South, a large proportion of HIV mental health research is carried out in the Global North. Large, well-funded observational cohort studies exploring HIV-associated psychopathology generally involve participant groups from WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic) settings. The socioeconomic status and institutional access afforded to these participant groups on average does not reflect those of the majority of beneficiaries of HIV mental health research. This misalignment may lead to limitations in generalising findings and developing effective interventions to improve the mental health of PLWH. Here, I offer recommendations to actively cultivate authentic diversity and inclusion in the field, with four focus points: (1) for funding bodies, to actively invest in neuroscientists in the Global South for investigations of HIV-related psychopathology; (2) for scientific publishers, to fund professional support services for researchers in the Global South; (3) for academic institutions, to facilitate meaningful, equitable collaborations with researchers in the Global South and incentivise studies with diverse participant groups; and (4) for individual neuroscientists, to actively cite and converse with colleagues in the Global South, tackle personal biases in those conversations, and avoid overgeneralising findings from primarily WEIRD participant groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4824-4828
Number of pages5
JournalMolecular Psychiatry
Early online date2 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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