Individuals with schizophrenia are at risk of developing HIV and are known to experience barriers to optimal medical care. Our goal was to determine, among a cohort of HIV clinicians, whether or not 110the diagnosis of schizophrenia affected the clinical decision to offer highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) to AIDS patients.
This is a cross-sectional study of a random, national sample of HIV experts drawn from the membership of the American Academy of HIV Medicine. Participants were mailed a self-administered questionnaire with a case vignette of a new onset AIDS patient and were specifically asked whether or not they would recommend HAART treatment. Vignettes were randomly assigned to include a diagnosis of schizophrenia or not. We located 649 clinicians (93%); 347 responded (53.4%). Responders and non-responders did not differ in demographics or work characteristics. Recommendation of antiretroviral treatment did not differ between those who received a case vignette with schizophrenia versus those who did not (95.8% vs. 96.6%, p = 0.69). Compared to those who received a case vignette without schizophrenia, those who received vignettes with schizophrenia were more likely to avoid prescribing efavirenz, a medication with known neuropsychiatric side effects (17.7% vs. 45.5%, p < 0.01), more likely to agree to be helped by a specialist (34.5% vs. 12.9%, p < 0.01), and more likely to recommend directly observed therapy (20% vs.10%, p = 0.01). HIV clinicians recognize the importance of recommending HAART treatment to individuals with schizophrenia and AIDS and avoid using antiretroviral medication with known neuropsychiatric side effects.