Prevalence of Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Symptomatology Among HIV-Infected Gay and Bisexual Men in HIV Primary Care

Psychosomatics. 2015 Sep-Oct;56(5):470-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2014.08.004. Epub 2014 Aug 23.


Background: The presence of psychiatric symptoms in gay/bisexual men managing HIV are underidentified and undertreated and can interfere with optimal HIV disease management. There is a paucity of prevalence reports of these symptoms in this group, identified in the primary HIV care setting. Few studies have compared prevalence rates based on empirically supported screening tools in relation to diagnoses made in primary care.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence of psychiatric symptoms and substance abuse in HIV-infected gay/bisexual men and to estimate the proportion of those who had been diagnosed within their primary medical care setting.

Method: Participants (n = 503) were HIV-infected gay/bisexual men screened for participation in a HIV prevention trial and completed psychosocial assessment. Data were also extracted from patients׳ electronic medical record.

Results: More than 47% of participants met diagnostic screen-in criteria for any anxiety disorder, of whom approximately one-third were identified in primary care. More than 22% screened in for a depressive mood disorder, approximately 50% of whom had been identified in primary care. A quarter of the sample had elevated substance abuse symptoms, 19.4% of whom were identified in primary care. Of those with symptoms of alcohol abuse (19.9%), 9.0% of those were identified in primary care.

Conclusion: These results provide some evidence suggesting that mood, anxiety, and substance abuse symptomatology are prevalent among HIV-infected gay/bisexual men and are underidentified in primary care. Increased mental health and substance use screening integrated into HIV primary care treatment settings may help to identify more gay/bisexual men in need of treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bisexuality*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*