Antidepressants may help some HIV patients stick to their complex medication regimens

Research Activities, March 2010, No. 355

Patients with HIV often suffer from depression, which can cause them to not stick to their often demanding highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) medication schedules. However, when these individuals also take antidepressants, the rates of adhering to HAART increase, even when the medication regimens are very complex. That's the finding of a new study from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality researcher William Encinosa, Ph.D., and Virender Kumar, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., of Westat.

Of the 1,192 individuals surveyed, 58 percent reported complete adherence to their HAART, 15 percent reported taking their medications 6 of 7 days, and 12 percent took them less than 5 days a week. As the complexity of the medication regimen increased, the odds of adherence decreased.

However, antidepressant use appears to have countered lack of adherence in some cases. For instance, individuals who were depressed but took antidepressants had adherence odds that were 9 percent higher than those who were not depressed or who were depressed but did not take antidepressants. As the complexity of the HAART medication schedule increased, the individuals who took antidepressants had adherence odds that were 12 percent higher than those who were depressed but didn't take antidepressants. Given these findings, the authors suggest that previous studies may have overstated the claim that antidepressant therapy negatively affects HAART adherence. In fact, antidepressants may be able to overcome depression as a risk factor for not adhering to HAART.

See "Effects of antidepressant therapy on antiretroviral regimen adherence among depressed HIV-infected patients," by Drs. Kumar and Encinosa in the September 2009 Psychiatric Quarterly 80(3), pp. 131-141.

Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 10-R013) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Current as of March 2010
Internet Citation: Antidepressants may help some HIV patients stick to their complex medication regimens: Research Activities, March 2010, No. 355. March 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/mar10/0310RA10.html