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The AIDS delusion.

The AIDS delusion

Here's a new twist to the controversy over AIDS testing. A small but increasing number of people with psychiatric disorders are demanding to be tested for the AIDS virus as a result of delusions that they have contracted the deadly disease. In three cases described in the September AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY, this erroneous belief that AIDS had been contracted disappeared with successful treatment of the person's severe depression or manic depression.

The delusion of having AIDS often revolves around guilt over a sexual indiscretion, such as an extramarital affair years earlier, report pyschiatrists Steven L. Mahorney and Jesse O. Cavenar Jr. of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Durham, N.C. But the patients have no symptoms of AIDS, are not intravenous drug users and report no homosexual experiences. If testing for the AIDS virus is nonetheless conducted, the researchers note, these patients usually find a way to explain away negative results and hang on their delusion until the underlying psychiatric disorder is addressed.

As AIDS becomes a fixture in the media and public consciousness, it may increasingly affect the delusions of people with psychiatric disorders, the investigators conclude.
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Title Annotation:people with psychiatric disorders who believe they have AIDS
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 17, 1988
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