The impact of mental health and substance abuse factors on HIV prevention and treatment

James Walkup, Michael B. Blank, Jeffrey S. Gonzalez, Steven Safren, Rebecca Schwartz, Larry Brown, Ira Wilson, Amy Knowlton, Frank Lombard, Cynthia Grossman, Karen Lyda, Joseph E. Schumacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The convergence of HIV, substance abuse (SA), and mental illness (MI) represents a distinctive challenge to health care providers, policy makers, and researchers. Previous research with the mentally ill and substance-abusing populations has demonstrated high rates of psychiatric and general medical comorbidity. Additionally, persons living with HIV/AIDS have dramatically elevated rates of MI and other physical comorbidities. This pattern of co-occurring conditions has been described as a syndemic. Syndemic health problems occur when linked health problems involving 2 or more afflictions interact synergistically and contribute to the excess burden of disease in a population. Evidence for syndemics arises when health-related problems cluster by person, place, or time. This article describes a research agenda for beginning to understand the complex relations among MI, SA, and HIV and outlines a research agenda for the Social and Behavioral Science Research Network in these areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S15-S19
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Health services
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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