March 27th 2018 - Dr. Robert H. Remien presented a plenary talk at the 25th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI2018) in Boston, MA., where he stressed the importance of addressing mental health to end the HIV epidemic and achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals.
Treatment for mental disorders and adherence interventions has an additive effect to those with HIV, positively affecting HIV health outcomes like PrEp treatment, reducing depression and anxiety, and ultimately increasing quality of life.
During his plenary, Dr. Remien described how mental health disorders can both biologically and behaviorally interfere with treatments for HIV. Furthermore, he discussed the challenges that are faced globally in diagnosing and receiving adequate mental health treatment to all of the people who need it, particularly in communities at risk for HIV. In an interview following his plenary, Dr. Remien explained how he “also drew attention to the optimal points in time – along our HIV prevention and treatment continua – for timely intervention – i.e., opportunities for intervening with mental health screening and provision of mental health care, that would improve patient well-being and overall health outcomes.”
Finally, Dr. Remien highlighted the range of successful evidence-based treatment approaches available and how their integration into the ongoing HIV medical care is essential.
“Integration of services to screen and manage mental health and substance use disorders into HIV care settings is a promising strategy to improve mental health and HIV treatment outcomes among people living with HIV/AIDS, including in resource-constrained settings.”
This year's conference marked the first time CROI chose to feature "Mental Health" in a prime plenary spot.
Click here to watch his presentation "Addressing Mental Health: Crucial component to Ending the HIV epidemic"
About Dr. Remien
Dr. Remien is the Director of the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, an inter-disciplinary research Center with a strong focus on mental/behavioral health and HIV prevention and care, the integration of biological and behavioral research, and implementation science. Dr. Remien is also Professor of Clinical Psychology (in Psychiatry) at Columbia University and in the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Remien is also Associate Director of the Division of Gender, Sexuality, and Health, a faculty mentor for HIV Center Postdoctoral Fellows, and the Clinical Director of Behavioral Health for the Northeast Caribbean AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC). He was appointed and served on the Governor’s Ending the AIDS Epidemic (EtE) Task Force which developed a Blueprint to end the HIV Epidemic in NYS; and he currently serve on the NYS AIDS Advisory Council Committee providing guidance for implementation of the Blueprint, which includes specific recommendations for improving the provision of mental health services in NYS for populations vulnerable to HIV acquisition and for people living with HIV. The HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies (at NYSPI) has strong partnerships with both NYSDOH and NYCDOHMH, implementing and studying “Ending the Epidemic” (EtE) initiatives in NY State; and personnel from both NYC and NYS Health Departments serve as members (faculty) of the Science Cores of the HIV Center.
Columbia Psychiatry's piece on Dr. Remien's Plenary can be accessed here