Objective: To review the past 10 years of published research on human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) in the United States, including psychosocial and psychiatric risk factors, epidemiology, biology, neurocognitive and psychiatric sequelae, disclosure issues, prevention strategies, and biological and behavioral treatments.
Method: Researchers reviewed the English-language literature with a focus on child and adolescent risk factors associated with HIV/AIDS, prevention, and treatment.
Results: Substantial scientific advances have occurred over the past two decades leading to decreased morbidity and mortality in the United States from AIDS-related opportunistic infections. At the same time, rates of HIV infection are increasing in teenagers, young women, and minorities, and growing numbers of youths are living with an infected family member. Understanding HIV risk behavior requires a broad theoretical framework. Comprehensive HIV prevention programs have led to reduced risk behavior among HIV-affected youths and teens at risk of infection. Biological and behavioral treatments of HIV infection continue to evolve and have led to longer life span, improved quality of life, and fewer psychiatric problems.
Conclusions: HIV/AIDS has significant mental health implications, and psychiatry can play a critical role in curbing the epidemic. With minimal effort, mental health professionals can adapt and apply the strategies that they use to treat psychiatric symptoms to prevent HIV transmission behaviors.