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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 1999 Sep;13(9):555-64.

Psychological discomfort and mental illness in patients with AIDS: implications for home care.

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Institute of Psychiatry and Psychology, Catholic University of Sacro Cuore, School of Medicine Agostino Gemelli, Rome, Italy.


A chart review study of 100 consecutive AIDS patients cared for by our Home Care (HC) unit was performed. The main characteristics of the sample were: M/F ratio = 3/1; mean age = 39.7 +/- 6.6; mode of transmission = 56% intravenous drug users (IVDU); Centers For Disease Control (CDC) classification = 98% C3; mean length of HC = 5.2 months. Psychopathological evaluation led to an overall rate of morbidity during HC of 73%. The most common psychiatric diagnoses were dementia and adjustment disorders. Nearly two thirds of the patients received psychopharmacological treatment; one fifth were still on methadone. Psychological discomfort was perceived by more than half of patients. Interpersonal problems with cohabitants were noticed by caregivers in 41%. Female patients showed an increased prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders. IVDUs had more prominent psychosocial problems. Interpersonal problems with cohabitants were correlated to substance use or other mental disorders in the family and to the patient's psychological discomfort. We conclude that mental health professional intervention for AIDS patients is strongly needed in a home-care setting.

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