The impact of depressive symptoms on ART initiation among Russian HIV-infected heavy drinkers enrolled in a secondary HIV prevention trial (HERMITAGE) was examined. We assessed 133 participants eligible for ART initiation (i.e., CD4 count <350 cells/μl) who were not on ART at baseline. Depressive symptom severity and ART use were measured at baseline, 6- and 12-months. Association between depressive symptoms and subsequent ART initiation was evaluated using GEE logistic regression adjusting for gender, past ART use, injection drug use and heavy drinking. Depressive symptom severity was not significantly associated with lower odds of initiating ART. Cognitive depression symptoms were not statistically significant (global p = 0.05); however, those with the highest level of severity had an AOR of 0.25 (95 % CI 0.09-0.71) for delayed ART initiation. Although the effect of depression severity was not significant, findings suggest a potential role of cognitive depression symptoms in decisions to initiate ART in this population.