Gender disparities in depression severity and coping among people living with HIV/AIDS in Kolkata, India

PLoS One. 2018 Nov 21;13(11):e0207055. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0207055. eCollection 2018.


People living with HIV/AIDS (PLH) experience high rates of depression and related psychosocial risk factors that vary by gender. This study examines gender differences in depression severity among antiretroviral therapy (ART) patients (n = 362) from a large government ART clinic in Kolkata, India. Hypotheses for multiple linear regression models were guided by an integrated gendered stress process model focusing on variables reflecting social status (age, partner status), stressors (stigma), and resources (income, social support). Depressive symptoms were assessed with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS); 22% of the sample reached the cutoff for severe depression, 56% moderate, and 13% mild depression. Compared to men, women reported lower income, education (50% no formal education vs. 20% men), availability of emotional and instrumental support, and were less likely to be married or cohabiting (53% women vs. 72% of men). However, more women had partners who were HIV-positive (78% women vs. 46% men). Overall, depression severity was negatively associated with availability of emotional support and self-distraction coping, and positively associated with internalized HIV/AIDS stigma, availability of instrumental support, and behavioral disengagement coping. Interactions for instrumental support by income and partner status by age varied significantly by gender. Analyses stratified by gender indicated that: 1) Frequently seeking instrumental support from others was protective for men at all income levels, but only for high-income women; and 2) having a partner was protective for men as they aged, but not for women. These results suggest that gender disparities in depression severity are created and maintained by women's lower social status and limited access to resources. The effect of stigma on depression severity did not vary by gender. These findings may inform the tailoring of future interventions to address mental health needs of PLH in India, particularly gender disparities in access to material and social resources for coping with HIV. Trial Registration: registration #NCT02118454, registered April 2014.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / psychology*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / virology
  • Female
  • Health Resources / supply & distribution
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult

Associated data