Background: Depression is frequent among youth living with HIV (YLWH). Studies suggest that manualized treatment guided by symptom measurement is more efficacious than usual care.
Setting: This study evaluated manualized, measurement-guided depression treatment among YLWH, aged 12-24 years at 13 US sites of the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Network.
Methods: Using restricted randomization, sites were assigned to either a 24-week, combination cognitive behavioral therapy and medication management algorithm (COMB-R) tailored for YLWH or to enhanced standard of care, which provided standard psychotherapy and medication management. Eligibility included diagnosis of nonpsychotic depression and current depressive symptoms. Arm comparisons used t tests on site-level means.
Results: Thirteen sites enrolled 156 YLWH, with a median of 13 participants per site (range 2-16). At baseline, there were no significant differences between arms on demographic factors, severity of depression, or HIV status. The average site-level participant characteristics were as follows: mean age of 21 years, 45% male, 61% Black, and 53% acquired HIV through perinatal transmission. At week 24, youth at COMB-R sites, compared with enhanced standard of care sites, reported significantly fewer depressive symptoms on the Quick Inventory for Depression Symptomatology Self-Report (QIDS-SR score 6.7 vs. 10.6, P = 0.01) and a greater proportion in remission (QIDS-SR score ≤ 5; 47.9% vs. 17.0%, P = 0.01). The site mean HIV viral load and CD4 T-cell level were not significantly different between arms at week 24.
Conclusions: A manualized, measurement-guided psychotherapy and medication management algorithm tailored for YLWH significantly reduced depressive symptoms compared with standard care at HIV clinics.
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