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Mental Health and HIV

Education Packet

Mental Health and HIV Education Packet – This packet is a compilation of several recent fact sheets and other resources. You may wish to customize it to meet the needs or interests of particular groups, such as event participants, providers, patients, clients, or the general public. So please feel free to distribute all or part of this packet as either a printout or PDF.

Fact Sheets and Issue Briefs

Mental Health and HIV ( – After a brief introduction to mental health challenges in general, this resource focuses primarily on depression, which is very common among people with HIV. It lists the potential symptoms of depression and provides guidance on getting help in a mental health crisis.

HIV and Mental Health (HIVinfo) – This begins with a definition of mental health, followed by information on the risk of mental health conditions among people with HIV; the causes and warning signs of mental health problems; and where people experiencing mental health problems can go for help. This resource is also available in Spanish.

Stigma and Mental Health (CDC) – This examines how HIV infection can impact a person’s mental health, and then focuses on HIV-related depression and its treatment. This resource is also available in Spanish.

HIV/AIDS and Mental Health (National Institute of Mental Health) – This addresses how people with HIV are at a higher risk for mental health disorders; defines a group of complications that are known as HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND); and describes ways in which taking antiretroviral treatment (ART) can affect mental health.

Mental Health and HIV (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) – This begins with an overview of mental health and HIV, followed by common responses to an HIV diagnosis, including denial, anger, sadness or depression, fear, anxiety, and stress – as well as tips for coping with these emotional reactions.  There is also a section about HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.

The Impact of Mental Health Across the HIV Care Continuum (American Psychological Association) – This issue brief examines the prevalence of mental health disorders among people with HIV; the role of mental health problems in HIV acquisition; the effects of mental impairment on HIV health outcomes; mental health screening and treatment for people with HIV; and mental and behavioral health treatments in HIV care.

Mental Health and HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) – This presentation slide set covers the intersection between mental health and HIV, mental health and HIV policies, efforts to address social determinants of mental health conditions and HIV infection, and the integration of care for mental health, substance use, and HIV.

Compiled Resources: American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association has produced a series of fact sheets about different mental health conditions affecting persons with HIV.  These include:

Selected Resources from AETCs

National HIV Curriculum: Screening for Mental Health Conditions (AIDS Education and Training Center, University of Washington, and other partners, 2020) – This is the sixth lesson in the Curriculum’s Basic HIV Primary Care module. It has detailed information on many topics, including:

  • Background
  • Estimates of Mental Health Conditions in Persons with HIV
  • Mental Health Conditions and Risk of HIV Acquisition and Transmission
  • Impact of Mental Health Conditions on HIV Outcomes
  • Benefit of Mental Health Care on HIV Outcomes
  • Neurocognitive Disorders in Persons Living with HIV
  • Overview of Screening Tools for Common Mental Health Conditions
  • Depression Screening Tools
  • Anxiety Disorder Screening Tools
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Screening Tools
  • Bipolar Disorder Screening Tool
  • Neurocognitive Screening Tools
  • Integrating Mental Health Screening into HIV Care

Suicide and Overdose Among People with HIV During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Updates and Opportunities for Mitigation (Mountain West AETC, New England AETC – NEAETC, March 2021) – Presenters for this webinar discussed overdose death rates throughout the U.S. during COVID-19, identified risk factors for suicidal ideation in people with HIV, and identified how COVID-19 impacts the mental health of people with HIV.

Mental Health for Transgender and Gender-Diverse People (NEAETC, March 2021) – This webinar focused on mental health inequities across diagnostic categories and HIV risk within a gender minority stress framework. It also offered strategies for building inclusive, affirming, and trauma-informed environments within healthcare organizations to optimize mental health and HIV-related outcomes.

Self-Care, Resiliency, and Stress Management for Healthcare Providers (AETC National Coordinating Resource Center – NCRC, NEAETC, Northeast/Caribbean AETC, January 2021) – Presenters at this webinar discussed stress and anxiety experienced by the healthcare community, reviewed approaches for addressing provider burnout and compassion fatigue, and identified opportunities to build and maintain well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suicide and People with HIV (NEAETC, October 2020) – This webinar provided an overview of suicide statistics among people with HIV and people using substances and described how to assess suicide risk.

HIV & Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder During COVID-19 (Northeast/Caribbean AETC, September 2020) – This training focused on the traumatic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the logistical and emotional challenges associated with providing care during a pandemic.

Caring for Transgender People with Severe Mental Illness (National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, May 2018) – Transgender people, like the general population, can suffer from a variety of common and rare severe mental health illnesses. This brief covers recommendations on providing care for this high-risk population.

Identification and Management of Personality Disorders and How They Can Affect HIV/AIDS Care (Albany Medical College, November 2016) – This webcast included a discussion of the prevalence of personality disorders (PDs) among people in HIV care, ways that PDs can affect HIV care management, and best practices for treatment referrals.

Depression Screening Tools (AETC NCRC, October 2016) – These are validated tools that were developed to screen for depression in primary care settings.

Integrating Mental Health and Substance Use Care into HIV Primary Care Toolkit (AETC NCRC, June 2015) – This toolkit includes components focusing on clinic/health center readiness; integration of mental health and substance use care with HIV primary care; barriers to mental health care services; depression screening tools; and approaches for identifying potential challenges and opportunities.

Other Related Resources

Eliminating Disparities in Viral Suppression Rates at Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program-Funded Clinics Due to Mental Health (Center for Quality Improvement and Innovation) – This resource describes core interventions for eliminating disparities in viral suppression rates due to mental health conditions. These include optimizing linkage and referral to care, providing trauma-informed care, connecting clients with transportation services, training staff in motivational interviewing skills, and others.

The Case for Behavioral Health Screening in HIV Care Settings (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) – This report highlights the need for HIV treatment providers to address behavioral health concerns associated with HIV. It urges providers to screen patients for mental health and substance use disorders, and offers strategies for implementing screening practices.

Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Care of People Living with HIV/AIDS (National Center for Innovation in HIV Care) – This resource describes changes in federal health policy that may increase behavioral health access for persons with HIV.

Neurological Complications of HIV and AIDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) – This resource and a related brochure describe how HIV infection affects the nervous system, the types of neurological side effects people with HIV may experience when taking ART, the range of neurological complications that may be caused by HIV infection, and how these complications may be diagnosed and treated. This resource is also available in Spanish.

Tackling Behavioral Health Comorbidities with the WHO Pyramid of Mental Health Services (National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care & Treatment) – This presentation discusses the World Health Organization pyramid of mental health services and how HIV prevention and care programs can address behavioral health comorbidities without exclusively relying on specialty mental health providers.

Psychosocial and Support Needs for People with HIV Who Are Aging in the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA] HIV/AIDS Bureau) – This webinar reviewed data on HIV among older Americans and their psychosocial needs, including the impact of isolation and HIV stigma.

Roadmap: Routine Depression Screening (TargetHIV) – This roadmap outlines steps to establish routine depression screening for people with HIV, including educating staff, initiating screening, setting up treatment services, and monitoring and making adjustments.

Trauma-Informed Approaches Toolkit (NASTAD) – This resource presents information about the basics of trauma and different trauma-informed approaches for delivering HIV care.

Trauma-Informed Care at AIDS Service Organizations (National Center for Innovation in HIV Care) – This is a review of research on the causes of higher trauma prevalence among people with HIV. It includes a discussion of the relationship of trauma symptoms to decreased engagement in HIV services, as well as best practices in trauma-informed care.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Health Partners (Futures Without Violence, HRSA) – This online toolkit examines ways agencies can establish partnerships to address intimate partner violence. Focus is on partnerships among HRSA Health Centers and domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy programs.


The contents listed on this page are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, the New England AIDS Education and Training Center.