Research Article Open Access
Volume 5 | Issue 1 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.33696/AIDS.5.046

Painful to Discuss: The Intersection of Chronic Pain, Mental Health, and Analgesic Use among People with HIV

  • 1Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
  • 2Emory Center for AIDS Research, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
+ Affiliations - Affiliations

Corresponding Author

Sara D. Pullen, sara.pullen@emory.edu

Received Date: October 03, 2023

Accepted Date: October 24, 2023


Objective: This retrospective chart review study aims to identify patients in an HIV clinical setting in an area of high HIV prevalence in Atlanta, Georgia, USA who have chronic pain, analgesic prescriptions, and/or mental health diagnoses.

Design: People living with HIV (PLWH) are at higher risk for experiencing trauma, mental health conditions, and chronic pain than their HIV-negative counterparts. This study was designed to evaluate the intersection of these factors within an urban HIV clinic.

Methods: Retrospective chart review study.

Results: Of the adult patients enrolled at an HIV clinic in Atlanta, Georgia USA between 2011-2022 (n=15,970), 93.7% were prescribed analgesics, 40.5% had documented pain diagnoses, and 23.5% had documented mental health diagnoses. Additionally, 14.3% of all enrolled patients had all three factors concurrently.

Conclusions: The complexity of HIV, chronic pain, mental health challenges, and analgesic use demand a patient-centered, collaborative approach including a multidisciplinary care team. Seeing persistent pain among PLWH with a trauma-informed approach to care within the lens of co-occurring mental health diagnoses will allow us to better understand, treat, and sustain patients in life-saving HIV care.


HIV, AIDS, Chronic pain, Trauma, Analgesics, Mental health

Author Information X