HIV patients with depression face serious risks

From Reuters Health

The proportion of time patients with HIV spend depressed is directly related to their likelihood of missing doctor appointments, how well their infection is suppressed and their risk of death from any cause, according to a multi-site U. S. study.

In a large analysis of records for nearly 6,000 patients receiving HIV primary care across the country, the researchers found that for patients depressed during the entire study period, the risk of death was double that of patients with no depression.

Even shorter periods of time spent with depression were tied to increases in viral load, missed appointments and increased mortality, researchers report in JAMA Psychiatry.

“If we can shorten an HIV patient’s exposure to depression by picking it up early and treating it well using evidence based protocols, we can make a difference in their outcomes,” said lead author Brian W. Pence, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

This is the first time that the impact of cumulative depression has been studied across the whole HIV care continuum, Pence told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

The results suggest that even short-term, mild depression can have“meaningful negative outcomes on HIV treatment and survival,” Pence and colleagues write.

An estimated 1.1 million people in the U. S. were living with HIV at the end of 2015, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 20 percent and 40 percent of people living with HIV also have depression, Pence noted.

“We need to find better ways to integrate mental health care into chronic disease care . . . There’s good evidence that primary care providers and non-specialists can be as effective as psychiatrists using assertive dosing schedules.”

Read the full article.

Explore posts in the same categories: HIV care, Research

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