Risk factors for suicide attempts in a clinic-based sample of people living with HIV in Puerto Rico

Gerardo G. Jovet-Toledo, Michael C. Clatts, Carlos E. Rodriguez-Diaz, Lloyd Goldsamt, Ricardo L. Vargas-Molina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Puerto Rico (PR) has a large and rapidly growing population of people living with HIV. However, relatively little behavioral or clinical research has been done in this population. As treatment for HIV increasingly moves into a chronic condition model, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the needs of this population so critical social and behavioral interventions can be developed, thus enabling the individual and community-level benefits of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to be fully realized. To date, however, there has been very little research on the mental health needs of people living with HIV in PR, a fact that constrains intervention development and implementation. This paper describes data from a public sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV clinic study in the San Juan metropolitan area between April 2010 and December 2012 (n = 1185), roughly a third (36%) of whom are living with HIV. Descriptive statistics, chi-square, t-tests, and binary logistic regressions were used to assess associations between HIV status and a history of suicide attempt. The overall prevalence of a history of suicide attempt was 20.4%. No statistically significant relationship was found between a history of suicide attempt and being HIV positive, although people with HIV infection did evidence a higher prevalence of attempts than HIV-negative subjects (23.4% vs. 19.0%). Factors associated with having a history of suicide attempt within the overall sample included gender, current employment status, a lifetime history of drug use, and a lifetime history of sex work. Similar patterns were seen in the HIV-positive subsample. There was a nonsignificant trend toward increased risk for a post-diagnosis suicide attempt. These findings suggest that additional research on mental health risks among populations at risk for HIV in PR is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1032-1035
Number of pages4
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2014


  • HIV
  • Puerto Rico
  • mental health
  • people living with HIV
  • suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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