Depressive and anxiety disorders in women with HIV infection

Am J Psychiatry. 2002 May;159(5):789-96. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.159.5.789.


Objective: This study examined whether there were differences in the rate of depressive and anxiety disorders between HIV-infected women (N=93) and a comparison group of uninfected women (N=62). Secondary objectives were to examine correlates of depression in HIV-infected women-including HIV disease stage and protease inhibitor use-and the associations between symptoms of depression or anxiety and other potential predictor variables.

Method: Subjects underwent extensive semiannual clinical, psychiatric, neuropsychological, and immunological evaluations. Depressive and anxiety disorder diagnoses were assessed by using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. Symptoms of depression and anxiety were evaluated with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (the 17-item version and a modified 11-item version) and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, respectively.

Results: The rate of current major depressive disorder was four times higher in HIV-seropositive women (19.4%) than in HIV-seronegative women (4.8%). Mean depressive symptom scores on the 17-item Hamilton depression scale also were significantly higher, overall, in the HIV-infected women (mean=8.7, SD=8.0) relative to comparison subjects (mean=3.3, SD=5.8). There was no significant between-group difference in the rate of anxiety disorders. However, HIV-seropositive women had significantly higher anxiety symptom scores (mean=8.8, SD=8.9) than did HIV-seronegative women (mean=3.6, SD=5.5). Both groups had similar substance abuse/dependence histories, but adjusting for this factor had little impact on the relationship of HIV status to current major depressive disorder.

Conclusions: HIV-seropositive women without current substance abuse exhibited a significantly higher rate of major depressive disorder and more symptoms of depression and anxiety than did a group of HIV-seronegative women with similar demographic characteristics. These controlled, clinical findings extend recent epidemiologic findings and underscore the importance of adequate assessment and treatment of depression and anxiety in HIV-infected women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Protease Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • HIV Seronegativity
  • HIV Seropositivity / diagnosis
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology


  • HIV Protease Inhibitors