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J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2011 Apr;18(3):213-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2010.01657.x. Epub 2011 Jan 4.

HIV/AIDS awareness in those diagnosed with mental illness.

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  • 1Thames Valley University, Paragon House, Brentford, UK.


The spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to increase among the general population. Previous studies in this field focused mainly on the 'at-risk' groups such as homosexuals, prostitutes, intravenous drug users, bisexual men and women. Mentally ill men and women remain one of the subgroups understudied and yet continue to show disproportionately high levels of seroprevalence. The purpose of this study was to elucidate awareness of the risk factors associated with HIV transmission and development of AIDS in those diagnosed with mental illness. Using questionnaires, information regarding HIV method of transmission, knowledge on HIV/AIDS and at-risk behaviour awareness was obtained from 30 subjects in an acute psychiatric mental health unit (13 women and 17 men). Significant association between different variables was determined at 95.5% confidence level (P=0.05). Assessment of HIV/AIDS awareness and at-risk behaviour awareness revealed significant knowledge deficit among this subject group. The outcome of this study underscores the need to introduce intervention programmes tailored to individual needs of the mentally ill. Measures such as 'at-risk sexual' behaviours should be incorporated into the current assessment process or profile so that accurate information and informed judgement can be reached regarding client or patient sexual behaviour.

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