HAART receipt and viral suppression among HIV-infected patients with co-occurring mental illness and illicit drug use

Geetanjali Chander, Seth Himelhoch, John A. Fleishman, James Hellinger, Paul Gaist, Richard D. Moore, Kelly A. Gebo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Mental illness (MI) and illicit drug use (DU) frequently co-occur. We sought to determine the individual and combined effects of MI and DU on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) receipt and HIV-RNA suppression among individuals engaged in HIV care. Using 2004 data from the HIV Research Network (HIVRN), we performed a cross-sectional study of HIV-infected patients followed at seven primary care sites. Outcomes of interest were HAART receipt and virological suppression, defined as an HIV-RNA 400 copies/ml. Independent variables of interest were: (1) MI/DU; (2) DU only; (3) MI only; and (4) Neither. We used chi-squared analysis for comparison of categorical variables, and logistic regression to adjust for age, race, sex, frequency of outpatient visits, years in clinical care, CD4 nadir, and study site. During 2004, 10,284 individuals in the HIVRN were either on HAART or HAART eligible defined as a CD4 cell count 350. Nearly half had neither MI nor DU (41%), 22% MI only, 15% DU only, and 22% both MI and DU. In multivariate analysis, co-occurring MI/DU was associated with the lowest odds of HAART receipt (Adjusted Odds Ratio: 0.63 (95% CI: (0.55-0.72]), followed by those with DU only (0.75(0.63-0.87)), compared to those with neither. Among those on HAART, concurrent MI/DU (0.66 (0.58-0.75)), DU only (0.77 (0.67-0.88)), were also associated with a decreased odds of HIV-RNA suppression compared to those with neither. MI only was not associated with a statistically significant decrease in HAART receipt (0.93(0.81-1.07)) or viral suppression (0.93 (0.82-1.05)) compared to those with neither. Post-estimation testing revealed a significant difference between those with MI/DU and DU only, and MI/DU and MI only. Co-occurring MI and DU is associated with lower HAART receipt and viral suppression compared to individuals with either MI or DU or neither. Integrating HIV, substance abuse, and mental healthcare may improve outcomes in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-663
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (290-01-0012) National Institute on Drug Abuse (K23-DA00523, K-23-DA019820, and K24-DA00432) and the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (K23 AA015313). Dr. Gebo was also supported by the Johns Hopkins University Richard Ross Clinician Scientist Award.


  • HIV
  • Illicit drug use
  • Mental health
  • Viral suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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