, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 353-360

HIV and Depressive Symptoms Among Low-Income Illicit Drug Users

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The study sought to assess the associations of HIV status, physical health status, current drug use, and gender with depressive symptoms in former and current illicit drug users. In 1994–1995, 503 individuals (188 HIV-infected; 191 females; 279 current drug users) were interviewed. Of HIV-infected participants, 70 were women and 96 were current drug users. Physical health status was measured by physical functioning (instrumental activities of daily living), CD4 count, AIDS, and HIV-related symptoms. Depressive symptoms were measured by the CES-D. Nearly two fifths (38%) reported a high level of depressive symptoms (CES-D ≥ 16). In multivariate analysis, impaired functioning (OR = 4.09, p < .001), HIV-related symptoms (OR = 3.09, p < .001), current drug use (OR = 1.59, p < .05), and history of mental illness (OR=3.22, p < .001) were independently associated with depressive symptoms. Gender and HIV status were not statistically significant. Detection and treatment of depression in drug using populations may improve quality of life and adherence to medical regimens.