Upstate News

February 13, 2008
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

SUNY Upstate Medical University receives $225,000 state grant to provide mental health services for people living with HIV

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — SUNY Upstate Medical University has been awarded $225,000 from the state Health Department to provide mental health services for people living with HIV.

SUNY Upstate was one of 20 health and research organizations—and the only one in Central New York—to receive the state funding.

The university’s Designated AIDS Center will use the funding to provide mental health services for HIV-positive patients who are either under insured or uninsured for such services.

The Designated AIDS Center provides medical care for 750 patients throughout a 17-county region. It has treated more than 3,100 patients since 1988. This funding will enable the center to provide mental health services on site.

In 2005, more than 10,000 Medicaid-eligible New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS had claims related to severe mental illness. Through all AIDS Institute service contracts, more than 9,000 persons living with HIV/AIDS received mental health services in 2005. From 2001 to 2006, contractors provided psychiatric services to more than 3,000 individuals and psychological therapy to almost 4,700 individuals.

Some people with HIV/AIDS are diagnosed with mental health disorders after they learn they have HIV. They may deal with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders and depression associated with the challenges and difficulties of being HIV-positive. Other people may have had a mental illness before being diagnosed with HIV. People with HIV/AIDS and mental illness are less likely to seek health and mental health care or adhere to their medication regimen, and may be dealing with drug and alcohol use. Mental illness may affect a person’s willingness to disclose his or her HIV status and may exacerbate risk behaviors that raise the odds of transmitting their disease.

In all, the state Health Department awarded more than $4 million in grants to AIDS centers across the state.

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