A comparison of the clinical features of depression in HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients in Uganda

Author(s): Akena DH, Musisi S, Kinyanda E


Objective:Depressive illness is the most common psychiatric disorder in HIV/AIDS with prevalence 2 to 3 times higher than the general population. It's still questionable whether HIV related depression is clinically different from depression in HIV-negative populations, a fact that could have treatment implications. This study compared the clinical features of major depression between HIV-Positive and HIV-negative patients with a view to intervention strategies.

Method:A comparative, descriptive, cross-sectional study was carried out on 64 HIV-Positive depressed patients and 66 HIV-negative depressed patients in Butabika and Mulago hospitals. They were compared along the parameters of clinical features of depression, physical examination and laboratory findings. Pair wise comparisons, logistic regression and Multivariate analysis were done for the two groups on a number of variables.

Results:Compared to HIV-Negative patients, HIV-Positive patients were more likely to be widowed; older (≥30years), less likely to have a family member with a mental illness; a later onset of depressive illness (≥30years); more likely to have a medical illness and taking medication before onset of depressive, symptomatically compared to HIV-Negative patients, HIV-Positive patients were more critical of themselves; had significantly more problems making decisions; had poorer sleep; felt more easily tired; more appetite changes; more cognitive impairment. Low CD4 counts were not significantly associated with depression, but HIV related depression was more likely to occur in stages II and III illness.

Conclusion:These findings show that the clinical and associated features of depression differ between HIV-Positive and HIV-Negative patients, thus requiring different management approaches and further studies related to HIV-related depression.

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