Objective: Psychological risk factors (PRFs) are associated with impaired learning and memory in HIV-infected (HIV+) women. We determined the dynamic nature of the effects of PRFs and HIV serostatus on learning and memory over time.
Design: Multi-center, prospective cohort study METHODS:: Every two years between 2009 and 2013 (3 times), 646 HIV+ and 300 demographically-similar HIV-uninfected (HIV-) women from the Women's Interagency HIV Study completed neuropsychological (NP) testing and questionnaires measuring PRFs (perceived stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depressive symptoms). Using mixed-effects regressions, we examined separate and interactive associations between HIV-serostatus and PRFs on performance over time.
Results: HIV+ and HIV- women had similar rates of PRFs. Fluency was the only domain where performance over time depended on the combined influence of HIV-serostatus and stress or PTSD (p's < 0.05); not depression. In HIV, higher stress and PTSD were associated with a greater cognitive decline in performance (p's < 0.05) versus lower stress and PTSD. Irrespective of time, performance on learning and memory depended on the combined influence of HIV-serostatus and stress or PTSD (p's ≤ 0.05). In the context of HIV, stress and PTSD were negatively associated with performance. Effects were pronounced on learning among HIV+ women without effective treatment or viral suppression. Regardless of time or HIV-serostatus, all PRFs were associated with lower speed, global NP, and executive function.
Conclusions: More than depression, perceived stress and PTSD symptoms are treatment targets to potentially improve fluency, learning, and memory in women living with HIV particularly when HIV treatment is not optimal.