Friday, February 28, 2014

Study Examines HIV Infection Rates in Certain Mental Health Care Settings

Individuals receiving treatment for mental disorders are up to four times more likely to be infected with HIV than is the general population, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Michael Blank, Ph.D., and colleagues from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland, administered HIV tests to more than 1,000 patients who were being treated for symptoms of depression, psychosis, or substance abuse at university-based inpatients psychiatry units and community mental health centers throughout Baltimore and Philadelphia over a 20-month period.

The researchers found that 51 of the patients (4.8%) receiving treatment for mental illness were infected with HIV, approximately 4 times the base rate for the general public in each city and 16 times the base rate for the general U.S. population. In addition, 13 of the 51 individuals reported they were unaware of their HIV status.

“These findings expose the lack of the HIV testing being provided to individuals in mental health care settings, despite recommendations to do so from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Francine Cournos, M.D., a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, told Psychiatric News. "The numbers from this study definitely send a message to psychiatrists that all patients with mental illness should be offered routine testing for HIV."

To read more the about the association of HIV infection and psychiatric disorders, see the Psychiatric News article "HIV/AIDS Care Ahead of the Curve in Integrating Treatment."

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