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BACKGROUND: Increasing numbers of children with perinatally acquired HIV (PaHIV) are transitioning into adult care. People living with behaviourally acquired HIV are known to be at more risk of psychosis than uninfected peers. Young adults living with PaHIV face numerous risk factors; biological: lifelong exposure to a neurotrophic virus, antiretroviral medication and immune dysfunction during brain development, and environmental; social deprivation, ethnicity-related discrimination, and migration-related issues. To date, there is little published data on the prevalence of psychotic illness in young people growing up with PaHIV. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective case note review of all individuals with PaHIV aged over 18 years registered for follow up at a dedicated clinic in the UK (n = 184). RESULTS: In total, 12/184 (6.5%), median age 23 years (interquartile range 21-26), had experienced at least one psychotic episode. The presentation and course of the psychotic episodes experienced by our cohort varied from short-lived symptoms to long term illness and nine (75%) appear to have developed a severe and enduring mental illness requiring long term care. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of psychosis in our cohort was clearly above the lifetime prevalence of psychosis in UK individuals aged 16-34 years, which has been reported to be 0.5-1.0%. This highlights the importance of clinical vigilance regarding the mental health of young people growing up with PaHIV and the need to integrate direct access to mental health services within the HIV centres providing medical care.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychol Med

Publication Date





2263 - 2269


Adolescents, HIV, perinatally acquired HIV, psychosis, social determinants of health, young adults, Adolescent, Adult, Child, HIV Infections, Humans, Mental Health, Middle Aged, Psychotic Disorders, Retrospective Studies, United Kingdom, Young Adult