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'Trauma screening needed in HIV care initiatives'

A Stellenbosch University study looks at the long-term effects of childhood trauma on people living with HIV.

Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - A Stellenbosch University study, which is exploring the impact of early childhood trauma and HIV on the brain - has highlighted the need for trauma screening to be included into HIV care initiatives.

A researcher at the university's Psychiatry and Mental Health Department has unpacked the long-term effects of childhood trauma on people living with HIV.

Doctor Georgina Spies says the brain and behavioural changes may result in additional complications.

Spies is leading the long-term study on the brain function of more than 300 women, some of whom are HIV positive.

She says the most commonly reported childhood trauma is emotional abuse, followed by neglect and physical abuse.

The results reveal the average brain volume was significantly smaller in HIV-positive women with childhood trauma.

Several regions of the brain were affected, including functions like memory and verbal fluency.

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