Individuals with HIV who also have mental health and substance-use disorders have lower medication adherence, higher unsuppressed viral loads and higher mortality rates than individuals with HIV who do not experience these disorders. People with triple diagnoses (HIV, mental health and substance-use disorders) are thus at an exponential risk for these adverse outcomes.

Steve Hicks School professors Fiona Conway, Michele Rountree and doctoral student Kristian Jones have recently conducted a study to explore the barriers and facilitators to accessing and linking services for with this triple diagnosis. Study results were published in Community Mental Health Journal.

For the study, the researchers conducted qualitative interviews with 90 participants with this triple diagnosis to understand their experiences seeking treatment. Results of a thematic analysis found that unstable motivation to change and negative experiences with providers were two important barriers to treatment access and utilization. Conversely, the researchers found that an internal drive to heal and rapport with providers facilitated positive treatment experiences. Findings of the study also indicate a need for an integrated model where treatment for HIV, mental health and substance-use disorders are available at the same location.