Borderline Personality Disorder Symptom Severity and Sexually Transmitted Infection and HIV Risk in African American Incarcerated Men

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Abstract

Background

Sexually transmitted infections (STI)/HIV rates are disproportionately high among men involved in the criminal justice system. Mental health disorders, including personality disorders, are also elevated among inmates. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) may be an important risk factor for STI/HIV, yet remains relatively understudied, particularly among inmates.

Methods

We used baseline data from Project DISRUPT, a cohort study of African American men being released from prison in North Carolina who were in heterosexual relationships at prison entry (n = 189), to assess their STI/HIV risk in the 6 months before incarceration and BPD symptoms focused on emotional lability and relationship dysfunction. We created a continuous BPD symptom severity score and a dichotomous BPD indicator split at the top quartile of the score (BPD-TQ) to examine associations between BPD and STI/HIV outcomes using logistic regression. We also examined associations between individual symptoms and outcomes.

Results

After adjustment for sociodemographics and antisocial personality disorder, BPD-TQ was associated with sexual risk behaviors including multiple partnerships (adjusted odds ratio, 2.58; 95% confidence interval, 1.24–5.36) and sex with nonmonogamous partners (adjusted odds ratio, 2.54; 95% confidence interval, 1.17–5.51). Prevalence of previous STI (47.5% vs. 29.6%) and prevalent chlamydial infection (6.9% vs. 3.1%) seemed higher in those in BPD-TQ, although the associations were not statistically significant. Associations were similar to those with the continuous score. Borderline personality disorder symptoms most associated with STI/HIV risk were abandonment worry, mood swings, and shifts in opinions.

Conclusions

Borderline personality disorder is strongly associated with STI/HIV risk in this sample. Researchers should further evaluate the relationship between STI/HIV and BPD, in addition to mood disorders.

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