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Correlates of suicidal ideation among HIV-positive persons

Carrico, Adam Wa; Johnson, Mallory Ob; Morin, Stephen Fb; Remien, Robert Hc; Charlebois, Edwin Db; Steward, Wayne Tb; Chesney, Margaret Ad; the NIMH Health Living Project Team

doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e3281532c96
Epidemiology and Social

Objectives: The present investigation sought to determine the extent to which demographic characteristics, illness-related burdens, alcohol and other substance use, and psychosocial factors are independently associated with suicidal ideation in HIV-positive individuals.

Design: HIV-positive individuals in four US cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and New York City) were screened between July 2000 and January 2002 for recruitment into a randomized behavioral prevention trial. Utilizing data from this screening visit, rates and correlates of suicidal ideation were examined in a diverse sample of 2909 HIV-positive individuals.

Methods: Using binary logistic regression study sites, demographic characteristics, illness-related burdens, alcohol and substance use, and psychosocial factors were entered as predictors of suicidal ideation. This cross-sectional model thus examined the independent effects of each factor.

Results: Approximately one-fifth (19%) of participants reported thoughts of suicide in the past week. We observed that participants who were not heterosexual, rated HIV-related symptoms and medication side effects as more severe, reported regular marijuana use, and described elevated affective symptoms of depression were those who were more likely to report suicidal ideation. Conversely, participants who identified as Hispanic/Latino, individuals in a primary romantic relationship, and those who reported greater self-efficacy for coping were less likely to report suicidal ideation.

Conclusion: Suicidal ideation among HIV-positive individuals is relatively common and is associated with multiple factors. These independent correlates may assist with identifying HIV-positive individuals who are at increased risk of suicidal ideation so that they may be assessed regularly and referred for psychological treatment when appropriate.

From the aSan Francisco Department of Psychiatry

bSan Francisco Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA

cNew York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University, New York, New York, USA

dNational Institutes of Health Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Received 6 December, 2006

Revised 16 February, 2007

Accepted 7 March, 2007

Correspondence to Adam W. Carrico, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, Health Psychology Program, 3333 California Street, Suite 465, Box 0848, San Francisco, CA 94143–0848, USA. Tel: +1 415 476 7756; fax: +1 415 476 7744; e-mail:

The members of the NIMH Healthy Living Project Team are listed at the end of this article.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.