Mind Over Matter Matters In HIV Treatment

Keeping an open mind can help keep your future open:

The largest study to examine the effect of depression on HIV treatment has found that depression significantly worsens a patient’s adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy and clinical measures. It also found that effective antidepressant medication can reverse this outcome.

The researchers looked at 3,359 HIV-infected patients from seven Kaiser Permanente regions nationwide and Group Health in 2000 to 2003 to measure the effects of depression — with and without selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) use — on adherence and changes in viral and immunologic control in patients starting a new highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) regimen.

The researchers studied the patients’ HAART adherence, viral loads, and changes in CD4 T-cell counts over a 12-month period. They found that depressed patients — 42 percent of the patient group — had a lower adherence rate and worse viral therapy response compared to non-depressed patients. But depressed patients who were prescribed SSRI medication and adhered to it had the same outcomes as non-depressed patients.

So, if you can’t be happy on your own, all you need are more drugs!