Increased health care utilization and increased antiretroviral use in HIV-infected individuals with mental health disorders

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The aims of the study were to describe the prevalence and associations of mental health disorder (MHD) among a cohort of HIV-infected patients attending the Victorian HIV/AIDS Service between 1984 and 2000, and to examine whether antiretroviral therapy use or mortality was influenced by MHD (defined as a record of service provision by psychiatric services on the Victorian Psychiatric Case Register). It was hypothesized that HIV-positive individuals with MHD would have poorer treatment outcomes, reduced responses to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and increased mortality compared with those without MHD.


This is a retrospective cohort of 2981 individuals (73% of the Victorian population diagnosed with HIV infection) captured on an HIV database which was electronically matched with the public Victorian Psychiatric Case Register (VPCR) (accounting for 95% of public system psychiatry service provision). The prevalence, dates and recorded specifics of mental health disorders at the time of the electronic match on 1 June 2000 are described. The association with recorded MHD, gender, age, AIDS illness, HIV exposure category, duration and type of antiviral therapy, treatment era (prior to 1986, post-1987 and pre-HAART, and post-HAART) on hospitalization and mortality at 1 September 2001 was assessed.


Five hundred and twenty-five individuals (17.6% of the Victorian HIV-positive population) were recorded with MHD, most frequently coded as attributable to substance dependence/abuse or affective disorder. MHD was diagnosed prior to HIV in 33% and, of those diagnosed after HIV, 93.8% were recorded more than 1 year after the HIV diagnosis. Schizophrenia was recorded in 6% of the population with MHD. Hospitalizations for both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric illness were more frequent in those with MHD (relative risk 5.4; 95% confidence interval 3.7, 8.2). The total number of antiretrovirals used (median 6.4 agents vs 5.5 agents) was greater in those with MHD. When adjusted for antiretroviral treatment era, HIV exposure category, CD4 cell count and antiretroviral therapy, survival was not affected by MHD.


MHD is frequent in this population with HIV infection and is associated with increased healthcare utilization but not with reduced survival.

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