Pain in amaXhosa women living with HIV/AIDS: a cross-sectional study of ambulant outpatients

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BMC Women's Health

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BACKGROUND: Pain is one of the most commonly reported symptoms in people living with HIV/AIDS, whether or not they are receiving anti-retroviral therapy. A recent systematic review identified a paucity of studies exploring pain in women in low and middle income countries. The prevalence and characteristics of pain in women living with HIV/AIDS may differ from that of men as many chronic pain conditions are more prevalent in women. The aims of this study were to establish pain prevalence, characteristics and management in amaXhosa women living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, we aimed to identify whether there were associations between pain in this population and the psychosocial factors of employment, education, self-efficacy, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, health related quality of life and childhood trauma. METHODS: A cross-sectional study of 229 women who had undergone HIV testing and were registered patients at a community health centre was conducted. Data were collected by interview with a demographic questionnaire, the Brief Pain Inventory-Xhosa, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire-Xhosa, Harvard Trauma Questionnaire-Xhosa for PTSD, Self-Efficacy for Managing Chronic Disease 6-Item Scale-Xhosa; the EQ-5D health related quality of life instrument, and the Beck Depression Inventory. RESULTS: 170 of the women had pain, a prevalence rate of 74.24% (95%CI 68.2 - 79.47%). The women reported significant pain with pain severity of 5.06 ± 1.57 and pain interference of 6.39 ± 1.96 out of 10. Only two women were receiving adequate pain management according to the pain management index. Participants reported a mean of 2.42 ± 1.21 different anatomical sites of pain. There were more unemployed participants in the group with pain and they had significantly fewer years of schooling. Those with pain had lower self-efficacy; health related quality of life and increased depression and PTSD symptom severity. CONCLUSION: This study highlights that pain is a common problem for amaXhosa women living with HIV/AIDS. These data emphasise the need to prioritise pain assessment and management in amaXhosa women living with HIV/AIDS. Routinely assessing for the presence of pain in women with HIV/AIDS has the potential to improve pain management and minimise the impact of pain on function.