Meta-analysis of the relationship between HIV infection and risk for depressive disorders

Am J Psychiatry. 2001 May;158(5):725-30. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.158.5.725.


Objective: Each of 10 published studies investigating the relationship between HIV infection and risk for depressive disorders concluded that HIV-positive individuals are at no greater risk for depression than comparable HIV-negative individuals. This study used meta-analytic techniques to further examine the relationship between depressive disorders and HIV infection.

Method: Meta-analytic techniques were used to aggregate and reanalyze the data from 10 studies that compared HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals for rates of major depressive disorder (N=2,596) or dysthymic disorder (N=1,822).

Results: The frequency of major depressive disorder was nearly two times higher in HIV-positive subjects than in HIV-negative comparison subjects. On the other hand, findings were inconclusive with regard to dysthymic disorder. Rates of depression do not appear to be related to the sexual orientation or disease stage of infected individuals.

Conclusions: Although the majority of HIV-positive individuals appear to be psychologically resilient, this meta-analysis provides strong evidence that HIV infection is associated with a greater risk for major depressive disorder. Future research should focus on identifying pathways of risk and resilience for depression within this population.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Bisexuality / statistics & numerical data
  • Comorbidity
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Dysthymic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Seronegativity
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology
  • Homosexuality, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors