HealthDay News — Patients with severe mental illness are only slightly more likely to be screened for HIV than those in the general population, according to a study published online Jan. 17 in Psychiatric Services.

The study included 56,895 Medicaid patients in California. They were between the ages of 18 and 67 and were all taking medications to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or major depression with psychosis.

The researchers found that 6.7 percent had HIV testing, compared with 5.2 percent of the state’s general population in 2011. The authors said their findings suggest a missed opportunity to treat HIV infection early in patients with severe mental illness. The risk of HIV may be up to 15 percent higher in patients with severe mental illness than in the general population, the researchers said.

“Effective treatments are widely available and people with severe mental illness appear to comply with antiretroviral therapies at rates similar to other groups,” first author Christina Mangurian, MD, with the University of California, San Francisco’s department of psychiatry, said. “We believe that annual HIV testing should be strongly considered by public mental health administrators.”

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Mangurian C, Cournos F, Schillinger D, Vittinghoff  E, et al.Low Rates of HIV Testing Among Adults With Severe Mental Illness Receiving Care in Community Mental Health Settings. Psychiatr Serv. 2017; doi: 10.1176/ [Epub ahead of print]