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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Comorbidities and depression in older adults with HIV

Richard J. Havlik A , Mark Brennan A B C and Stephen E. Karpiak A B

A AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA), ACRIA Center on HIV and Aging, 230 West 38th Street, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10018, USA.

B New York University College of Nursing, New York, NY 10003, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email: MBrennan@acria.org

Sexual Health 8(4) 551-559 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SH11017
Submitted: 7 February 2011  Accepted: 24 May 2011   Published: 29 July 2011

Abstract

Objective: To investigate whether the high rates of depression found in older adults living with HIV are associated with the number and types of comorbidities. Methods: The Research on Older Adults with HIV (ROAH) study collected self-reported health data on ~1000 New York City HIV-positive men and women aged 50 years and older. Participants provided data on health problems experienced in the past year and depressive symptomatology (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)). Data were analysed using a non-parametric test of association and multiple regression analysis. Results: The correlation between CES-D scores and number of comorbidities was significant (r = 0.24). In multivariate analyses, depression remained a significant covariate of the number of comorbid conditions, in addition to female gender, inadequate income, history of drug and alcohol use, AIDS diagnosis and self-rated health. Correlations of depression with specific comorbidities varied. Significant correlations with sensory loss and dermatological problems were observed. Significant correlations existed with heart and respiratory conditions as well as fractures, but the directionality of these cross-sectional relationships is uncertain. Conclusions: The findings suggest the need for further longitudinal research to understand how high rates of depressive symptoms are related to comorbidities. Focussed clinical care that strives to prevent the collapse of the immune system must evolve into an effective treatment strategy for multimorbidities, where HIV is but one of many other chronic illnesses. If the management of depression continues to be a low priority, the older person with HIV may experience an avoidable reduction in life expectancy.

Additional keywords: epidemiology, medical care, USA.


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