HIV, Depression, and Cognitive Impairment in the Era of Effective Antiretroviral Therapy

Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2019 Feb;16(1):82-95. doi: 10.1007/s11904-019-00421-0.


Purpose of review: Mental health disorders, especially depression, are prevalent among people living with HIV (PLWH) and are associated with cognitive impairment (CI) among HIV-uninfected (HIV-) individuals. We conducted a comprehensive review of the link between depression and cognition among PLWH.

Recent findings: Studies examining depression and cognition in PLWH report high rates of current (median = 24%) and lifetime depression (42%). There is reliable evidence that depression is associated with overall CI among PLWH, and in the cognitive domains of processing speed, executive function, learning and memory, and motor function. Although few studies have examined the interaction between HIV serostatus and depression on CI, there is no evidence of a stronger association between CI and depression in PLWH compared with HIV- controls. Depression is prevalent and reliably associated with CI in PLWH, with an overall pattern of domain-specific associations similar to that of HIV- individuals.

Keywords: Cognitive impairment; Depression; Depressive symptoms; HAND; HIV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents