Objective: To determine the relationship between incident depression symptoms and suboptimal adherence to HIV highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Methods: Participants in a cohort study of persons with HIV on HAART with at least 4 consecutive semiannual study visits were included (n = 225). Incident depression was defined as having 2 visits with a negative depression screening test followed by 2 visits with a positive test. Comparison group participants had 4 consecutive visits with a negative depression screening test. Suboptimal adherence was defined as missing >5% of HAART doses in the past 7 days. We compared suboptimal adherence rates in those with and without incident depression symptoms and estimated the relative risk and 95% confidence intervals of suboptimal adherence at visit 4 in those adherent at baseline (n = 177), controlling for sociodemographic, behavioral, and clinical variables.
Results: Twenty-two percent developed depression symptoms. Those developing depression symptoms had higher rates of suboptimal adherence at follow-up (45.1% vs. 25.9%, P < 0.01). Among those with optimal baseline adherence, those with incident depression were nearly 2 times more likely to develop suboptimal adherence (Adjusted relative risk =1.8, 95% confidence interval =1.1 to 3.0) at follow-up.
Conclusion: Incident depression symptoms were associated with subsequent suboptimal HAART adherence. Ongoing aggressive screening for, and treatment of, depression may improve HAART outcomes.