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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”



American Journal of Public Health, Vol 91, Issue 1 31-37, Copyright © 2001 by American

Public Health Association


Prevalence of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C

in people with severe mental illness

SD Rosenberg, LA Goodman, FC Osher, MS Swartz, SM Essock, MI

Butterfield, NT Constantine, GL Wolford and MP Salyers

Department of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School, New Hampshire-Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, Lebanon, NH, USA.




OBJECTIVES: This study assessed seroprevalence rates of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (Hepatitis C Virus) among individuals with severe mental illness.

 METHODS: Participants (n = 931) were patients undergoing inpatient or outpatient treatment in Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, or North Carolina.

RESULTS: The prevalence of HIV infection in this sample (3.1%) was approximately 8 times the estimated US population rate but lower than rates reported in previous studies of people with severe mental illness. Prevalence rates of HBV (23.4%) and Hepatitis C Virus (19.6%) were approximately 5 and 11 times the overall estimated population rates for these infections, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Elevated rates of HIV, HBV, and Hepatitis C Virus were found. Of particular concern are the high rates of Hepatitis C Virus infection, which are frequently undetected. Individuals with Hepatitis C Virus infection commonly fail to receive appropriate treatment to limit liver damage and unknowingly may be a source of infection to others.