Academic Commons


HIV Seroprevalence Among Patients Admitted to Two Psychiatric Hospitals

Cournos, Francine; Empfield, Maureen; Horwath, Ewald; McKinnon, Karen M.; Meyer, Ilan H.; Schrage, Howell; Currie, Cathie; Agosin, Brenda

OBJECTIVE: The authors determined the seroprevalence of HIV-1 among patients admitted to two psychiatric hospitals in New York City. METHOD: Patients consecutively admitted to an acute psychiatric unit in Manhattan and a large state hospital in Queens were anonymously tested for HIV-1 antibodies from December 1989 through July 1990. Test results were linked to age, gender, ethnicity, and two risk behaviors: male homosexual activity and injection drug use. RESULTS: Blood was obtained from 83.0% of the eligible patients. The prevalence of HIV was 5.5% (25 of 451). Black patients accounted for 38.0% of the patients tested and 76.0% of positive results (N = 19), a rate of 11.1% for this group. The rate of seropositivity was comparable in women and men. Clinicians had charted risk behavior for nine (36.0%) of the 25 HIV-positive patients. Infection control records suggested that clinicians were aware of seven (28.0%) of the positive cases. CONCLUSIONS: One in every 18 patients admitted to two public psychiatric hospitals in New York City was HIV positive. Clinical staff largely failed to identify HIV-positive patients. Ethnicity and a history of homosexual activity among men or use of injected drugs were strongly associated with seropositivity. This pattern of infection may be linked to needle sharing and/or sexual activity with partners who have shared needles. Future research should clarify how psychiatric illness affects risk-taking behavior, focus on improving detection by clinicians, and identify effective prevention strategies in this population.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for HIV_Prevalence_2_Hospitals_1991.pdf HIV_Prevalence_2_Hospitals_1991.pdf application/doc 1.09 MB Download File

Also Published In

American Journal of Psychiatry

More About This Work

Academic Units
American Psychiatric Association
Published Here
March 14, 2014
Academic Commons provides global access to research and scholarship produced at Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Academic Commons is managed by the Columbia University Libraries.