The purpose of this study was to examine depressive symptomatology in a sample of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected Black Americans and to determine the extent to which measures of HIV disease severity were associated with depressive symptoms. Seventy-nine HIV-infected Black men and women (ages 25 to 68 years) participated. Measures included the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and multiple HIV disease severity variables including CD4+ lymphocyte count, CDC HIV stage, and HIV RNA viral load. Levels of self-reported depressive symptoms were high, with 58% (n = 48/79) of study participants exhibiting elevated depressive symptoms (CES-D score of ≥16). No relationship was found between CD4+ count, CDC HIV stage, sociodemographic variables, and depressive symptoms. Viral load, however, was positively correlated with elevated depressive symptoms. Although the level of depressive symptomatology was high, only two participants were receiving antidepressant medication. This study suggests that there is a significant unmet need for identification and treatment of depressive symptoms among Blacks receiving routine care for HIV disease.
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