The largest study to examine the effect of depression on HIV
treatment found that depression significantly worsens a patient's
adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy and clinical
measures, but that effective antidepressant medication can reverse this
outcome, according to a study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of
Research and the Group Health Cooperative published in the current
online issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
The study looked at 3,359 HIV-infected patients from seven
Kaiser Permanente regions nationwide and Group Health in 2000 to 2003
to measure the effects of depression – with and without selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) use – on adherence and changes in
viral and immunologic control in patients starting a new Highly Active
AntiRetroviral Therapy regimen.
"The take-home point of this study is that depression carries a worse
prognosis for HAART in HIV patients. However, we also found that SSRIs
can reverse this and improve outcomes for HIV-depressed patients," said
Michael A. Horberg, MD, MAS, FACP, Director of HIV/AIDS for Kaiser
Permanente and the lead author on the study. "HIV and depression often
go hand in hand. If you are HIV-infected, you should be screened
regularly for depression, and if you are depressed and you are going to
go on HAART, it's very worthwhile to treat your depression."
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