Policy Changes May Expand Behavioral Health Care Access For People Living With HIV/AIDS

Comprehensive behavioral health care is a key component of overall wellness. For people living with HIV (PLWH), access to these services is especially critical. The stress caused by pervasive stigma and discrimination around HIV/AIDS has been shown to contribute to a number of behavioral health problems, including depression, anxiety, psychological trauma, and substance abuse. The duel challenges of HIV and psychiatric diagnoses means that this population has unique behavioral health needs that must be integrated into culturally-competent care plans.

A new brief from The National Center for Innovation in HIV Care at The Fenway Institute outlines recent changes in federal health policy that may increase behavioral health treatment access for PLWH. The Fenway Institute hopes that this brief will help AIDS service organizations, community-based organizations, and HIV-focused health service organizations expand and optimize access to behavioral health treatment for the vulnerable populations they serve.

“PLWH encounter numerous barriers to behavioral health treatment,” wrote Alex Keuroghlian, MD, MPH, Interim Director of Education and Training Programs for The Fenway Institute and author of the brief. “Medical mistrust, discrimination within the health care system, poor integration of behavioral health and primary care services, as well as inadequate insurance or lack of insurance coverage for behavioral health treatment have historically contributed to behavioral health care disparities among PLWH.”

Studies have shown that when PWLH are able to access behavioral health services, they exhibit improved engagement in HIV care and antiretroviral medication adherence.

The full brief, titled Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Care of People Living with HIV/AIDS, can be found here.

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