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A retrospective analysis of psychological distress symptoms presented by clients self-enrolling into HIV-related mental health care over a ten year period

Michael Reece, PhD, MPH1, Paul Plate, MA2, Enbal Shacham, MEd1, Tania Basta, MPH3, and Kim McBride, MA4. (1) Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University, HPER Building 116, 1025 E. Seventh Street, Bloomington, IN 47405-4801, 812-855-0068, mireece@indiana.edu, (2) Positive Impact Inc., 139 Ralph McGill Blvd, Suite 301, Atlanta, GA 30308, (3) Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, The University of Georgia, 300 River Road, Athens, GA 30602, (4) Applied Health Science, Indiana University, 801 E. 7th St., Arbutus House Room 101, Bloomington, IN 47408

Background: It is well known that individuals living with HIV are at risk for psychological distress due to HIV-related neurological and pharmaceutical complications, as well as social stigmas associated with infection. However, little research has focused on the level and nature of psychological distress that is experienced by individuals who are actively engaged within the HIV care system, particularly those who identify distress and seek care in response. Methods: This study examined trends in psychological health status over a period of ten years among an ethnically diverse sample of 1,900 individuals living with HIV who self-enrolled into mental health care at a clinic in a large, high HIV prevalence city. Data were analyzed to assess the prevalence and correlates of psychological distress among these individuals. Results: Individuals presented with levels of psychological distress that were above the standardized norms for the general population. Differences in magnitude of psychological distress varied according to ethnicity, disease status, gender, history of substance abuse, sexual orientation, and employment status. Conclusions: There remains a need for community-based HIV service providers to focus on the psychological consequences of living with HIV. Of particular importance is that providers have a better understanding of mental health distress patterns among those already engaged in HIV care services, given that these individuals may represent those most likely to identify psychological distress and self-enroll into care in response. Such an understanding among providers may help to facilitate successful linkages between mental health services and other components of the HIV care continuum.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

HIV/AIDS Research Roundtable: African American Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA