Office of HIV Psychiatry

 

About Us
Welcome to Office of HIV Psychiatry.  Our Office coordinates the many HIV/AIDS-related education, training and support activities within the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychiatric Foundation. We provide information on the spectrum of clinical, neuropsychiatric, and psychosocial aspects of HIV disease and AIDS, and offer a myriad of trainings and services for various audiences including psychiatrists, psychiatric residents, physicians, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, substance abuse professionals, mental health providers, case managers and individuals living with HIV. We welcome interactions with others who share our vision of preventing the spread of HIV, providing quality psychiatric care to all patients, and improving the mental health of persons living with HIV disease.  We invite you to browse our Web site and begin to learn about the many education and training programs and services we offer.

History
Now in the third decade of the AIDS epidemic, people with HIV disease can anticipate living longer and healthier lives due to the availability of potent antiretrovirals. But in 1989, when APA first established its Commission on AIDS, a person who learned s/he had AIDS had a very short life expectancy.  At that time more than 62,000 people had already died in the U.S from what was once reported to be a "rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer."  Establishing a Commission represented APA's heightened commitment to using its members' expertise to play a role in combating the fast-spreading epidemic and addressing public policy.  At the time this was an area into which few physicians or mental health professionals chose to work. 

It wasn’t long before the manifestations of HIV on the brain were fully recognized, which made it a disease that psychiatrists had the unique skills and training to treat.  Through the Commission and a dedicated staff, APA led the way in addressing AIDS-related issues to an extent no other medical or professional group could match.   Soon its members were growing increasingly concerned that an inadequate number of psychiatrists were involved in treating HIV-related neuropsychiatric illnesses. This concern triggered a still-ongoing initiative to develop training programs primarily for psychiatrists that deal with behavioral and neuropsychiatric aspects of HIV disease. It also led the Commission to adopt a multilevel approach to its mission that added education, training, resource development to its role as a policy advisor to APA leadership.  This expansion in activities subsequently led to the establishment of the Office of HIV Psychiatry.  

Mission
Today the Office of HIV Psychiatry works with nearly 150 psychiatrists to provide information, training, education, resources, consultation, and technical assistance to the community of health care providers. Our mission is to advance understanding of the psychiatric complications and neuropsychiatric dimensions of HIV disease and work to forever improve the quality of mental health care for all HIV patients.  These initiatives have been guided by the dedication and expertise of APA members.