Objective: To ascertain whether initiation of protease inhibitors was associated with a change in depressive symptoms among persons infected with HIV.
Methods: Study subjects included men and women who were enrolled in the HIV/AIDS Drug Treatment Program and who had completed an annual participant survey before and after initiating triple combination therapy with a protease inhibitor. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale (CES-D). Statistical analyses to determine the change in CES-D total and subscale scores before and after protease inhibitor use were conducted using parametric and multivariate methods.
Results: Our analysis was restricted to 453 participants. Of these 234 (52%) were depressed at baseline (CES-D score > or = 16). Compared with nondepressed participants, depressed participants were slightly younger (p = .048), less likely to be employed (p < .001) and more likely to have an annual income less than $10,000 per annum (p < .001). After adjusting for CD4 count, employment status, income, age, and CES-D total or subscale score at baseline, we found a significant improvement in total scale score (p = .001) and depressive mood (p = .002), positive affects (p = .005), and somatic symptoms (p = .011) subscale scores at follow-up. There was no significant change in the interpersonal relations score over the study period.
Conclusion: Our findings indicate that in addition to conferring impressive clinical benefits, protease inhibitor use is associated with a significant improvement in HIV-positive individuals' mental health.