Study shows treating mental problems boosts effectiveness of anti-HIV therapy
August 28 2004 12:00 AM ET
A new book about psychiatric disorders and AIDS shows that treating mental problems directly improves the HIV treatment outcomes for HIV-positive adults, AIDS Alert reports. The Psychiatry of AIDS: A Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment coauthor Glenn J. Treisman says research has shown that HIV-positive people with mental disorders are far less likely to be on antiretroviral therapy than other HIV patients, and that mentally ill HIV patients who are on anti-HIV therapy are less likely to adhere to their regimen than other HIV patients.
"We already have data to show psychiatric disorders have a bad impact on compliance with highly active antiretroviral treatment," Treisman told AIDS Alert. "And there are good data to show that HIV infection increases the likelihood and severity of depression." In addition, there is a high percentage of HIV patients also suffering from addictions, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, Treisman says.
Treisman concludes that carefully screening all HIV patients for mental problems and offering immediate treatment for such conditions as depression, anxiety, and other illnesses could significantly improve the clinical outcomes for HIV patients by helping them start and stick to an anti-HIV drug regimen. "Mental illnesses are driving the HIV epidemic, and if we don't treat them, they are a vector into the epidemic and an impediment to treatment," Treisman told AIDS Alert. "Treatment allows HAART to have the best chance to work."