HIV-related services for persons with severe mental illness: Policy and practice in new hampshire community mental health


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Abstract

Rates of HIV and HIV risk behaviors are elevated among people with severe mental illnesses (SMI). Little is known about the extent to which community mental health (CMH) centers screen, refer, and educate their clients regarding HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The authors surveyed CMH administrators and clinicians in New Hampshire regarding HIV/STD policy, practices, knowledge, and attitudes. HIV/STD service availability varied, and the amount of services provided was unrelated to the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in that region. Clinicians were knowledgeable about general HIV information but lacked specific knowledge about HIV related to persons with SMI. CMH staff had positive attitudes about helping clients with HIV issues. Administrators were interested in receiving training. Policy leadership, CMH practice guidelines, and training are warranted in light of the pressing public health implications of HIV/STDs among people with SMI.

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