Article Text

  1. C. M. Bingcang,
  2. K. W. O'Bryan,
  3. A. R. Hoellein,
  4. A. C. Thornton,
  5. J. F. Wilson
  1. University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY


Background Depression, substance abuse, and alcohol abuse are known to play a significant role in chronic diseases and especially afflict persons living with HIV (PLWH). The purpose of this study is to report the prevalence of these disorders in a population of PLWH and identify predisposing correlates.

Methods A voluntary, IRB-approved questionnaire was offered to patients presenting to the University of Kentucky HIV clinic. Depression was assessed with both self-reported medical history as well as the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire Depression Scale (PHQ-9). Substance abuse was assessed with the 10-item Short Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST-10) and 10-item Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Self-reported demographic information was also collected. The data were analyzed through the use of simple means, standard errors, and Pearson product-moment correlations.

Results Of the 123 surveys delivered, 102 (82.9%) were returned. Demographic information finds: mean age 40.6 6 9.1 (22-67); 83% men; 80% Caucasian, 15% African American, 3% Hispanic, and 1% Asian; 67% are men who have sex with men (MSM), 14% indicate high-risk heterosexual activity (HRH), 4 (4%) intravenous drug use, 2% report blood exposure, and 13% do not know their HIV risk factor; 50% have depression, and 28.4% have anxiety. The proportion of worrisome scores on these measures were 57.8% (PHQ $ 5 indicating depression), 11.8% (DAST $ 3), and 9.3% (AUDIT $ 8). Individual PHQ item analysis finds that 66.33% feel depressed, 72.92% have difficulty sleeping, 68.13% have poor appetite, and 24.5% are suicidal. Regarding drug abuse, 43.43% have used drugs for nonmedical reasons, 11.22% have neglected their family because of drugs, and 13.27% are unable to stop using drugs. Most (91.67%) do not consume more than 1-2 drinks per week, but 26.04% report some binge-drinking and 11.34% have been told to cut down. Significant correlations include self-reported depression and anxiety with PHQ scores (r = .473, p < .001 and r = .341, p < .001, respectively), depression with nonwhites and less education (r = .26, p = .016 and r = .276, p = .01, respectively), and drug abuse with younger age (r = .36, p = .011).

Conclusions The data suggest that depression is quite rampant in this population. Alcohol and drug abuse do not appear disproportionate; however, the small but significant binge-drinking and inability to stop using drugs could conceivably affect their disease outcomes. Mental health disorders represent serious, common, but identifiable and treatable comorbid disease in an already vulnerable population.

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