Depressed Female HIV Patients More Likely to Die

WESTPORT, Conn-A new study shows women who are HIV-positive and have chronic depression symptoms are more likely to die than HIV-positive women without symptoms of depression.

Jeannette R. Ickovics, MD, from Yale University, used data from the HIV Epidemiologic Research Study to examine HIV-related mortality and CD4 cell counts among 765 HIV-seropositive women. The women were 16-55 years of age and were followed for seven years.

The women were classified as having limited or no depressive symptoms, intermediate depressive symptoms, or chronic symptoms. Those women who had symptoms of chronic depression were twice as likely to die as women with no symptoms of depression.

The women whose CD4 counts were less than 200 per microliter, the HIV-related mortality rate with chronic depression was 54% and for women with intermittent depressive symptoms the rate was 48%. These were compared to a rate of 21% for women with limited to no depressive symptoms.

Chronically depressed women also had a significantly greater decline in CD4 cell counts than other subjects.

The study concluded that further research is needed to treat depression and enhance mental health of women with HIV to stop disease progression.

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