US National Institute of Mental Health fund major clinical trial in depression and HIV

15 oct 2018

A team led by Dr Melanie Abas, Reader in Global Mental Health at King’s College London and co-Deputy Director of the Centre for Global Mental Health has been awarded a grant of $3.8 million dollars from the US National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH). This is for a clinical trial in Zimbabwe to demonstrate if and how treating depression in people living with HIV who are not virally suppressed can improve physical health, HIV viral suppression, and quality of life.

Achieving viral suppression is one of the three UNAIDS global goals for 2020.  The trial will test whether better approaches to adherence counselling and mental health care can achieve viral suppression for people living with HIV. The trial is known as TENDAI, which stands for Task-shifting to treat Depression and non-Adherence to HIV medication. Tendai is a gender-neutral name meaning ‘thankful’ in the Shona language. The active intervention integrates a culturally adapted adherence intervention with a stepped care treatment for depression. The intervention uses ‘Opening Up the Mind’ – a collaborative approach to asking questions and generating solutions, close to classical Problem-Solving Therapy. This culturally recognised form of talking therapy links with the intervention delivered on the Friendship Bench. If successful, TENDAI could make a critical difference to the health and survival of people managing the dual challenges of mental ill-health and HIV in Zimbabwe and potentially in other sub-Saharan African countries.

The TENDAI research team comprises investigators from the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, King’s College London, Harvard Medical School and the University of Miami. The study is led by Dr Melanie Abas (Principal Investigator), Dr Conall O’Cleirigh (Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, co-Principal Investigator), and Dr Walter Mangezi (Lecturer and Consultant Psychiatrist, University of Zimbabwe, Site Principal Investigator). Dr Dixon Chibanda of the CGMH is a co-investigator with Professor James Hakim, Professor Steven Safren, Dr Kim Goldsmith and Dr Barbara Barrett

Grant details:

Name: TENDAI -Task-shifting to treat depression and non-adherence to HIV medication

Grant number: 1R01MH114708-01A1

Principal Investigator: Dr Melanie Abas, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, UK

Co-Principal investigator: Dr Conall O’Cleirigh, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, USA