HIV Risk Factors for Persons with Serious Mental Illness

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Public Health, High Risk, Intervention Strategy, Mental Illness, Risk Assessment

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HIV risk factors were assessed among 120 persons in treatment for serious mental illness. Although subjects had good general knowledge regarding HIV, many engaged in high risk behaviors. Condom use was infrequent among those who had multiple sexual partners, and sharing needles was common for those who used IV drugs. Clearly, factual knowledge about HIV was not sufficient to prevent risky behavior. Nearly half of the sample was categorized as at medium to high risk, and almost half of the participants, especially those at medium risk, underestimated their own level of risk. The results suggest that education and intervention strategies should focus on increasing the accuracy of the individual's risk assessment as well as changing attitudes towards condoms and improving skills in using condoms. Assessing personal risk and adopting risk-reduction strategies are the keys to successful AIDS prevention for persons with serious mental illness.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Community Mental Health Journal, v. 30, issue 6, p. 551–563