Treatment of depressive symptoms in human immunodeficiency virus-positive patients

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998 May;55(5):452-7. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.55.5.452.


Background: This randomized clinical trial compared 16-week interventions with interpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive psychotherapy, and supportive psychotherapy with imipramine for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients with depressive symptoms.

Methods: Subjects (N = 101; 85 male, 16 female) with known HIV seropositivity for at least 6 months were randomized to 16 weeks of treatment. Inclusion criteria were 24-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score of 15 or higher, clinical judgment of depression, and physical health sufficient to attend outpatient sessions. Therapists were trained in manualized therapies specific for HIV-positive patients. Treatment adherence was monitored.

Results: Subjects randomized to interpersonal psychotherapy (n = 24) and supportive psychotherapy with imipramine (n = 26) had significantly greater improvement on depressive measures than those receiving supportive psychotherapy (n = 24) or cognitive behavioral therapy (n = 27). Similar results appeared in the completer subsample.

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms appear treatable in HIV-positive patients. Interpersonal psychotherapy may have particular advantages as a psychotherapy for patients who have experienced the significant life events of HIV infection.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology*
  • HIV Seropositivity / immunology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology
  • Humans
  • Imipramine / therapeutic use*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Imipramine