Medical News

HIV Outcomes Could Improve by Integrating Treatment of Comorbid Mental Illness

May 23, 2013

Although individuals with HIV are living longer due to antiretroviral drug therapy (ART), many of them also suffer from psychological disorders such as depression, neurocognitive disorders, and substance use disorders. An international team from the United States, Haiti, Uganda, and Tanzania recently released the first of a five-part policy report on improving HIV patient outcomes by integrating treatment for HIV and comorbid mental illness. According to the authors, some mechanisms link HIV with mental illness. These include social conditions under which patients live, fears about employment and housing, food security, and social stigma. Also, HIV can affect the central nervous system, causing long-term cognitive problems that ART may not help and place the patient at additional risk of contracting other infections.

According to the authors, scientific literature describes all of these problems but does not have much clinical data on programs to integrate the two types of diseases. The authors see potential in treating ailments such as depression and alcohol abuse disorder along with HIV, and beginning ART earlier to prevent some of the neurocognitive impairment. They also recommend integrating screenings and brief psychotherapeutic interventions with HIV care. They contend that the case for integrating mental health care into medical treatment is supported by good studies and that such integration may increase ART effectiveness for patients in developing countries who may not access mental health care separately, even if it is free.

The full report, "Grand Challenges: Improving HIV Treatment Outcomes by Integrating Interventions for Co-Morbid Mental Illness," was published in the journal PLoS Med (2013; doi: 10(5): e1001447).

Back to other news for May 2013

Adapted from:
Medical Daily
05.21.2013; Matthew Mientka

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.

No comments have been made.

Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:

Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:


The content on this page is free of advertiser influence and was produced by our editorial team. See our content and advertising policies.