HIV infection remains a serious psychologic burden even in era of HAART


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Despite dramatic improvements in prognosis due to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), HIV-infected individuals still experience significant levels of depression and anxiety, according to analysis of data from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study.

A cohort of 318 subjects completed several questionnaires: the HIV Medical Outcome study, a visual analog scale assessing perception of present health status, the Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale, and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. In the group, viral load was <400 copies/mL for 59% of respondents, and median CD4 count was 403 cells/µL.

Dr. Manuel Battegay of the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland and associates report that "the scores for anxiety and depression were high."

Higher viral load, longer duration of HIV infection, and a change of body weight were associated with worse scores, according to the authors' report in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes for November 1. Intravenous drug users had worse scores on all scales except depression compared with other individuals.

"Long-term care must address the social and mental health problems of HIV-infected individuals," Dr. Battegay's group urges. The result may be better adherence to therapy and enhanced coping strategies, they write.

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