Among individuals with mental illness, the HIV infection rate is generally found to be substantially higher than in the general population. Understanding dimensions or subtypes of psychopathology linked with HIV risk behavior may enable development of targeted interventions to reduce HIV transmission. This study identified subgroups of women (n = 243) receiving outpatient psychiatric treatment based upon cluster analysis of indices of personality disorder and clinical symptom syndromes. High, medium, and low psychiatric severity cluster subgroups were found to differ significantly on key HIV risk variables. The high psychopathology subgroup revealed greater AIDS anxiety, more sexual partners, more sexual trading behaviors, less risk reduction self-efficacy, and less skill in condom usage than was found in one or both cluster subgroups characterized by less psychiatric severity. Results suggest that subgroups differentiated on the basis of levels of personality disorder and clinical symptom severity display differences in types and levels of HIV risk-related attitudes, beliefs, expectancies, skills, and behaviors that might guide development of tailored prevention intervention.
Keywords: Cluster analysis; Personality; Psychopathology; Sex risk behaviors.