The rate of HIV and sexually transmitted infections among mental patients is higher than that of the general population worldwide. Many risky sexual behaviors are associated with mental illness. However, mental health care users (MHCUs) are not specifically targeted for HIV preventative care,
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The rate of HIV and sexually transmitted infections among mental patients is higher than that of the general population worldwide. Many risky sexual behaviors are associated with mental illness. However, mental health care users (MHCUs) are not specifically targeted for HIV preventative care, and routine HIV testing is not done among this population. Limited studies have investigated self-reported HIV and STI prevalence and associated risky sexual behavior in persons with mental illnesses accessing health care services in South Africa in particular. This study set out to determine both the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) self-reported prevalence and sexual practices of MHCUs. A descriptive cross-sectional survey using purposive sampling was used to select 107 MHCUs across five clinics within Gauteng Province of South Africa who were above the age of 18, had a mental illness, and were currently stable and receiving chronic medication. Descriptive statistics were performed using Stata IC version 16. The chi square test was used to indicate statistical significance (p
< 0.05) of differences in frequency distributions. More males (52.5%) than females were currently in a sexual relationship (50.0%), having multiple sexual partners (n
= 4.13%), and having alcohol-driven sex (n
= 4.19%). The majority of MHCUs (n
= 82.77%) had an STI in the past six months, and a quarter (n
= 21.25%) were HIV-positive with over two-thirds of MHCU (n
= 69.70%) perceiving themselves not at risk for HIV. MHCUs engaged in risky behaviors had a low perception of the risks of contracting HIV. Bivariate analysis of gender by sexual behavior revealed that female MHCUs are more at risk of being forced to have sex compared to males (p
= 0.006). Integrated interventions should be put in place to ensure that MHCUs’ sexual and reproductive health are not left behind and issues such as sexual education, safe sex, and sexually transmitted infections should form part of the care of MHCUs.