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Compr Psychiatry. 1999 Mar-Apr;40(2):126-30.

Human immunodeficiency virus-related risk behavior among Italian psychiatric inpatients.

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  • 1Department of Medical Sciences of Communication and Behavior, University of Ferrara and S. Anna Hospital, Italy.


This study evaluated at-risk behavior for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among Italian psychiatric inpatients. One hundred patients with mental disorders consecutively admitted to an acute psychiatric unit over a 1-year period were studied using a self-report questionnaire. In these patients, 53.1% reported sex with multiple partners, 35.4% with occasional partners, 57% with prostitutes, and 6.7% with intravenous (i.v.) drug users (i.v.DUs). Forty-three percent never used condoms during sexual intercourse, 23% used drugs intravenously, and 20% shared needles. Only one third of the patients were tested for HIV, and two tested seropositive ([HIV+] prevalence, 5.8%). Most patients (62%) reported no concern about the risk of HIV infection. The rate of HIV risk behaviors was higher among psychiatric patients versus a control group of 90 healthy people. These findings indicate an alarming rate of HIV risk behaviors among Italian psychiatric inpatients and the need for closer attention to HIV assessment and education in mental health settings.

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