Psychiatric diagnosis and antiretroviral adherence among adolescent medicaid beneficiaries diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

James Walkup, Ayse Akincigil, Scott Bilder, Nancy Scotto Rosato, Stephen Crystal

Publication Date: 05/01/2009

Research on adults with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) has suggested that psychiatric and substance abuse comorbidities are prevalent in this population, and that these may sometimes be associated with use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and adherence. For adolescents with HIV/AIDS, much less is known about patterns of mental health comorbidity, and even fewer data are available that compare them to socioeconomically comparable youth without HIV/AIDS. Using medical and pharmacy data from 1999 to 2000 Medicaid claims (Medicaid Analytic Extract) from 4 states for beneficiaries aged 12 to 17 years, we identified 833 youth under care for HIV/AIDS meeting study criteria within the HIV/AIDS group, receipt of ART was less likely for youth who had diagnoses of substance abuse, conduct disorders, or emotional disorders than for others. Once ART was initiated, adherence did not significantly differ between adolescents living with a psychiatric condition, and those who were not, with the exception of an association between conduct disorder and lower adherence. Among those with HIV/AIDS, ART use and adherence were more common among youth with higher rates of service use, regardless of psychiatric status. Associations between race and adherence varied by gender: compared with their white counterparts, minority girls had lower, and minority boys had higher adherence.