Suicide Accounts for 2% of deaths in people with HIV/AIDS

According to a study that took place over the period of 15 years in England and Wales, men living with HIV are much more likely to commit suicide than people who don’t have the condition – especially in the first year after they have been diagnosed. Public Health England representative Sara Croxford reported this result at the British HIV Association which was recently held in Liverpool.

There is a lot of stigma surrounding HIV and these findings prompted her to say that this needs to change and improvements need to be made in terms of testing, in addition to support for those who live with the condition. This will hopefully help the suicide rates in coming years by helping sufferers get the support they need.

Many previous studies have also reflected these shocking suicide rates for those with HIV and also a higher chance of anxiety, depression and similar disorders are more likely.

There were 88,994 diagnosed with HIV in England and Wales between the years of 1997 and 2012 and all related suicide figures correspond to this number. They are all stored in the Office of National Statistics’ death data where anonymous identities were given to the victims.

6% of HIV-suicide related deaths were reported by the end of 2012, which is 118 out of 10,000 people. In terms of the general population, HIV suicides were 6 times higher. Some factors that are thought to be associated with these high mortality rates include delays in testing for the condition and unreliable/slow treatment.

58% of AIDS related deaths however is diagnosis coming too late and the disease spreading too far for it to be controlled. Over half of these people never even got to receive treatment or even visit a HIV clinical care centre.

Some other causes of death with this percentage of people included stroke and cardiovascular disease (8%), cancer (8%), infection (8%), liver disease (5%), substance abuse (3%) and suicide (2%).

Based on the 96 deaths that occurred from suicide with HIV victims, a massive 91 was amongst men. This number was also higher with those that used drugs. The suicide rate amongst women with HIV were interestingly not higher than that of the general population.

When comparing suicide rates of men, those with HIV vs the general population, it was shown that the number with those living with HIV was double that of other men. Out of 10 suicides, 4 occurred within the first year of diagnosis, during which time the number was 5 times that of the general population!

During the study period of 1997 – 2012, there were suicide figures with those who were receiving care and not receiving care for HIV and not in any particular pattern.

There might be other social and behavioural aspects in regards to these statistics of course, but researchers do not currently have access to that information to analyse. What is suggested due to the fact that suicide is so common during the first year of diagnosis is that stigma surrounding the condition, response of others, lack of care and adapting to the disease is what drive many of these men over the edge.


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