Depressive Symptoms, Gender, Disclosure, and HIV Care Stage Among People Living with HIV in Cameroon

AIDS Behav. 2022 Mar;26(3):651-661. doi: 10.1007/s10461-021-03425-3. Epub 2021 Aug 17.


Depression is associated with suboptimal HIV care outcomes. Little is known about the extent to which the prevalence of depressive symptoms varies across the HIV care continuum. Also, the relationship among gender, HIV disclosure, HIV care stage, and depressive symptoms in PLWH remains poorly understood. We analyzed cross-sectional data from 12,507 PLWH at enrollment in International epidemiology Databases to Evaluate AIDS (IeDEA) Cameroon between 2016 and 2020. Recent depressive symptoms were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2). A score of three or greater on the PHQ-2 was considered indicative of likely major depressive disorder. We estimated the prevalence of depressive symptoms across three stages of HIV care: those not yet on antiretroviral therapy (ART), recent ART initiators (ART initiation ≤ 30 days prior), and ART users (ART initiation > 30 days prior). Adjusted prevalence differences (aPD) of depressive symptoms were estimated comparing recent ART initiators and ART users. Disclosure and gender were examined as effect measure modifiers of the relationship between HIV care stage and depressive symptoms. The prevalence of depressive symptoms was 11.9%, 22.0%, and 8.7% among PLWH not yet on ART, recent ART initiators, and ART users, respectively. ART users had significantly lower prevalence of depressive symptoms compared to recent ART initiators (aPD - 0.09 [95% CI - 0.11, - 0.08]). Neither gender nor HIV disclosure modified the effect measure of the relationship between HIV care stage and depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms were commonly reported among this group of PLWH and were associated with recent ART initiation. Integration of screening and treatment of depression into HIV care should be prioritized and may be particularly relevant for PLWH initiating ART.

Keywords: Cameroon; Depression; Disclosure; Gender; HIV.

MeSH terms

  • Cameroon / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major*
  • Disclosure
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans