Depression and social functioning among HIV-infected and uninfected persons in South Africa
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Depression and other health problems are common co-morbidities among persons living with human immunodeficiency virus infection/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). The aim of this study was to investigate depression, health status, and substance use in relation to HIV-infected and uninfected individuals in South Africa. Using a cross-sectional case-control design, we compared depression, physical health, mental health, problem alcohol use, and tobacco use in a sample of HIV-infected (N = 143) and HIV-uninfected (N = 199) respondents who had known their HIV status for two months. We found that depression was higher, and physical health and mental health were lower in HIV-positive than HIV-negative individuals. Poor physical health also moderated the effect of HIV infection on depression; HIV positive individuals were significantly more depressed than HIV-negative controls, but only when general physical health was also poor. We did not find an association between alcohol or tobacco use and HIV status. These results suggest the importance of incorporating the management of psychological health in the treatment of HIV.