Background: While testosterone's ameliorative effects on depressive disorders and fatigue in HIV-positive patients have been suggested in the literature, no placebo-controlled trial selecting for depressive disorders and including a standard antidepressant has been conducted. Accordingly, this double-blind trial was designed to determine whether testosterone, as well as fluoxetine, is superior to placebo for depression, fatigue, or both.
Method: One hundred twenty-three men with HIV/AIDS with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition depressive disorder entered the 8-week trial and were randomized to testosterone (up to 400 mg IM testosterone cypionate biweekly), fluoxetine (up to 60 mg/d), or double placebo. Outcome variables were the Clinical Global Impressions Scale for mood and for fatigue, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and the Chalder Fatigue Scale.
Results: Ninety men completed the trial. In intention-to-treat analyses, mood response rates were 54%, 47%, and 44% for fluoxetine, testosterone, and placebo, respectively. Among completers, mood response rates were 70%, 57%, and 53%, respectively; in neither analysis were differences between treatments statistically significant. In contrast, testosterone was superior to fluoxetine and placebo for completers regarding fatigue. In intention-to-treat analysis, response rates were 39%, 56%, and 42% for fluoxetine, testosterone, and placebo, respectively, and for study completers, 41%, 63%, and 52%, respectively, (P < 0.05),
Conclusion: While over 50% of patients treated with testosterone reported improved mood, this rate was not statistically superior to placebo. Thus, our findings do not support prescription of testosterone as a first-line treatment for depressive disorders in HIV-positive men. However, if validated in additional studies, testosterone may be a useful option for medically ill men experiencing significant fatigue as well as depression.