Objective: The purpose of this report is to describe behavioural problems encountered in a group of Dominican children living with Human Immunodeficency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the Dominican Republic. They were not receiving antiretroviral treatment.
Method: The participants were 43 children with HIV infection (2 to 8 years of age) who were attending an immunology clinic in the largest paediatric hospital in the Dominican Republic. All of the participants were vertically infected with the HIV virus (mother-to-child transmission) and had a very low socio-economic status. The children’s caregivers were administered the Child Behavioural Checklist (CBCL) by trained psychologists to determine the caregivers’ perception of the children’s behavioural problems. Behavioural findings were examined according to the CBCL age format: younger children (under 5 years of age) and older children (over 6 years of age).
Results: Descriptive statistics revealed a high proportion of the children, both younger (approximately 40%) and older (46%) scored in the borderline/clinical ranges for internalizing problems, including anxiety, withdrawn-depressed and somatic complaints. In addition, 46% of the older children were perceived as having externalizing problems (rule breaking and aggressive behaviour).
Conclusion: These findings suggest that a high incidence of behavioural and mood problems may be prevalent among Dominican children with HIV. The findings are discussed in terms of future research to examine other risk factors that might contribute to the high rate of maladaptive behaviours observed in the present report, including the contribution of socio-economic status, caregiver illness, caregiver education and parental loss.