Negotiating risk: knowledge and use of HIV prevention by persons with serious mental illness living in supportive housing.

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
American Journal of Community Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.74). 01/2006; 36(3-4):357-72. DOI: 10.1007/s10464-005-8631-1
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT As a population, persons with serious mental illness (SMI) have an elevated risk for HIV infection. However, relatively little is known about how the risk of HIV has affected their lives, how persons with SMI evaluate their HIV risk, and what preventive measures they undertake. Furthermore, relatively little is known about community-based HIV prevention for persons with SMI as most interventions have been restricted to clinical settings. This report presents findings on the HIV-related experiences of persons with SMI living in supportive housing programs, one possible setting for implementing community-based HIV prevention with this population. The qualitative investigation interviewed 41 men and women living in five supportive housing programs. In-depth, qualitative interviews elicited discussion of research participants' (a) experiences with HIV, (b) knowledge about HIV and HIV prevention, (c) assessments of their own risk, (d) descriptions of how they apply their prevention knowledge, and (e) reports of barriers for HIV prevention. Research participants describe social networks that have substantial contact with persons affected by HIV. However, contrary to some expectations of persons with SMI, research participants report using HIV prevention knowledge in negotiating their risk of contracting HIV. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of their relevance for implementing community-based HIV prevention for persons with SMI.

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