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J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2012 Jul;33(6):456-68. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e31825b8482.

Longitudinal study of emerging mental health concerns in youth perinatally infected with HIV and peer comparisons.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.



Cross-sectional research indicates high rates of mental health concerns among youth with perinatal HIV infection (PHIV), but few studies have examined emerging psychiatric symptoms over time.


Youth with PHIV and peer comparisons who were HIV-exposed but uninfected or living in households with HIV-infected family members (HIV-affected) and primary caregivers participated in a prospective, multisite, longitudinal cohort study. Groups were compared for differences in the incidence of emerging psychiatric symptoms during 2 years of follow-up and for differences in psychotropic drug therapy. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association of emerging symptoms with HIV status and psychosocial risk factors.


Of 573 youth with study entry assessments, 92% attended at least 1 annual follow-up visit (PHIV: 296; comparisons: 229). A substantial percentage of youth who did not meet symptom criteria for a psychiatric disorder at study entry did so during follow-up (PHIV = 36%; comparisons = 42%). In addition, those who met criteria at study entry often met criteria during follow-up (PHIV = 41%; comparisons = 43%). Asymptomatic youth with PHIV were significantly more likely to receive psychotropic medication during follow-up than comparisons. Youth with greater HIV disease severity (entry CD4% <25% vs 25% or more) had higher probability of depression symptoms (19% vs 8%, respectively).


Many youth in families affected by HIV are at risk for development of psychiatric symptoms.

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