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30 Percent of HIV/AIDS Patients Have Depression, Global Study Finds

October 15, 2019

By Reuters Staff

NEW YORK—The worldwide prevalence of depression among people with HIV/AIDS is 31%, according to new findings.

Depression prevalence tended to be higher in less developed countries, Dr. Ahmad Ghashghaee of the Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran and colleagues report in BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, online September 25.

"This could be a significant issue for policymakers in this area, due to the negative consequences of depression, including the lack of motivation for treatments, lifelong therapeutic processes, social rejection, as well as additional costs imposed on patients and their families," the team writes.

The authors reviewed 118 articles published in 2003-2018 including more than 51,000 people, nearly 15,000 of whom had moderate to severe depression. Globally, men’s prevalence of depression was 8% higher than women’s.

Depression prevalence among people with HIV/AIDS declined over time, by about 3% annually, the authors found.

South America was the continent with the highest prevalence of depression among people with HIV/AIDS, at 44%, while the lowest prevalence of depression, 22%, was found in Europe.

Of the six World Health Organization regions, South-East Asia had the highest depression prevalence, at 40%, while Africa had the lowest, at 24%.

Two U.S. studies found prevalences of depression among HIV/AIDS patients of 13.74% and 11.45%, respectively. Smaller studies done in India and Thailand found a depression prevalence of 44.08% and 45.5%, respectively.

Studies in African countries have found prevalences ranging from 6.2% in Uganda to 28.2% in Nigeria.

Lower rates of depression in more developed countries "could be attributed to governmental support for these patients, people’s social and cultural awareness, as well as advancements in health status," the authors note.

"The results of the present study have a high level of heterogeneity; most studies were cross-sectional, some of them used convenience sampling, while some others applied cluster sampling methods," they add. "Consequently, caution should be taken in applying the findings to future policies and plans."


BMJ Support Palliat Care 2019.

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