September 14, 2020
In recent years, remarkable achievements in HIV testing and antiretroviral therapies have improved the detection, management, and care of persons living with HIV (PLWH). In the 1980s and 90s, patients with HIV infection faced a devastating prognosis. But now, with proper medications and support, PLWH can enjoy long and fulfilling lives. Thus, when the topic of suicide among PLWH is raised, many physicians are surprised. They often ask me, “wasn’t suicide an issue of a time before we had access to antiretroviral therapies?”
In our recent study in AIDS Care, my colleagues and I found that suicidal thoughts and attempts remain a pressing concern among PLWH, who are significantly more likely to die by suicide compared to the general population. Given that HIV infection can be well-managed with proper care, what accounts for the elevated risk for suicide among PLWH?