HIV-infected women are burdened by depression and anxiety, which may impact adherence to antiretroviral therapy and overall quality of life. Yet, little is known about the scope of psychological symptoms in the growing number of HIV-infected women reaching menopause, when affective symptoms are more prevalent in the general population. We conducted a longitudinal study to compare affective symptoms between perimenopausal HIV-infected and non-HIV-infected women.
The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7) were completed at baseline and 12 months among 33 HIV-infected and 33 non-HIV-infected perimenopausal women matched by race, age, menstrual patterns, and BMI. Linear regression models estimated the relationship of baseline GAD-7 and CES-D scores with clinical factors.
All women were perimenopausal at baseline, and the vast majority remained perimenopausal throughout follow-up. HIV status was associated with higher baseline CES-D scores (median [interquartile range] 21 [12, 29] vs 10 [5, 14]; P = 0.03) and GAD-7 scores (7 [5, 15] vs 2 [1, 7]; P = 0.01), controlling for smoking, substance use, and antidepressant use. Depressive symptoms and anxiety remained significantly higher in the HIV-infected women at 12 months (P ≤ 0.01). Significant relationships of depressive symptoms (P = 0.048) and anxiety (P = 0.02) with hot flash severity were also observed.
Perimenopausal HIV-infected women experienced a disproportionately high level of affective symptom burden over a 12-month observation period. Given the potential for these factors to influence adherence to HIV clinical care and quality of life, careful assessment and referral for treatment of these symptoms is essential.