Integrating Behavioral Health With Medical Services: Lessons From HIV Care

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Abstract

Recent trends have emerged that focus on developing strategies for integrating behavioral health services into medical care settings, prompting heightened interest in articulating specific models for integrated care. The biopsychosocial complexity of HIV disease has resulted in efforts to integrate HIV-related mental health services with medical treatment as part of an overarching continuum of care concept. Lessons learned from these efforts have the potential to contribute significantly to informing current deliberations regarding how to go about integrating mental health care with medical care in general medical settings. With the hope of contributing to the professional dialogue in this area, this article presents a detailed account of a comprehensive HIV mental health services program that is integrated with HIV/AIDS medical care. The program provides services for a traditionally underserved client population in a community-based urban setting. After elucidating the conceptual foundations of the program, key strategies for program implementation are described in detail. Finally, drawing upon the experiences and lessons learned from implementation of this integrated HIV mental health services model, the article concludes with an outline of specific implications for the evolving discussion regarding how best to integrate behavioral health services into general medical care settings.

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