Original Article: bit.ly/1yks8AO
People with mental illness are more likely to have been tested for HIV than those without mental illness, according to a new study from a team of researchers at Penn Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published online this week in AIDS Patient Care and STDs. The researchers also found that the most seriously ill – those with schizophrenia and bipolar disease – had the highest rate of HIV testing.
The study assessed nationally representative data from 21,785 adult respondents from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and provides an update of prior research using 1999 and 2002 NHIS data. The 2007 version is the most recent cycle of the survey that included information both on mental health diagnoses and HIV testing.
The current Penn-led study adds precision to earlier research by reporting on HIV-testing rates according to specific mental health diagnoses; previous studies did not differentiate persons with, for example, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia spectrum disorder.
"Our finding that persons with mental illness were tested for HIV at a higher rate than those without mental illness is encouraging and consistent with previous analyses," said lead author Baligh R. Yehia MD, MPP, MSHP, assistant professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Penn Medicine Program for LGBT Health. "However, the large number of people with mental illness who still have not been tested necessitates increased public health prevention efforts, particularly in light of the increased HIV risk in this population."
The CDC recommends that all persons aged 13-64 be tested for HIV in healthcare settings and that persons with increased risk such as injecting drug users and their sex partners, sex workers, men who have sex with men, and heterosexuals with multiple sex partners be tested at least annually.
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