Patients with HIV have a high likelihood of developing depression related to their diagnosis, according to the results of a recent study. Uncertain what actions to take, many of these patients do not seek medical care and go without proper therapy.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, examined the association between the length of time a patient remains depressed and care outcomes among 5927 HIV-positive adult patients. Participants took multiple depressive severity assessments that were translated into a measurement of percent of days with depression. The results showed that patients spend a median of 14% of their days with depression.

According to the study, each 25% increase in the amount of days spent with depression resulted in an 8% increase in the risk of missed appointments, a 5% increase in the risk of treatment failure, and a 19% increase in mortality. Patients experiencing depression for the duration of the follow-up period had a 37% greater risk of missing appointments, a 23% increased risk of treatment failure, and a mortality rate 2 times higher than patients who never spent time depressed.

These study findings show that patients with HIV who develop depression are more susceptible to worse health outcomes than their counterparts without depression. Health care providers need to accurately identify depression in these patients through regular screenings and provide them with an individualized treatment that works for them.

Author: Christine Potkul