Safety considerations in drug treatment of depression in hiv-positive patients: An updated review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most prevalent illnesses associated with HIV infection, and negatively affects medication adherence, disease progression and mortality in HIV disease. Co-morbid treatment of major depression in HIV disease is the optimal therapeutic approach, but discriminating MDD from normal fluctuations in mood state, personality or physiology is difficult. Definitive diagnosis of MDD is critical for drug safety and for avoiding unnecessary exposure to psychotropic medications. HIV patients respond to antidepressant treatment like the general population, and medication adverse effects and patient adherence are the best predictors of treatment outcome.This review attempts to assist the medical provider with the diagnosis and treatment of MDD in HIV patients. We outline the initial steps in screening and psychiatric referral, the antidepressants that are particularly useful in HIV-infected patients, and the adverse effects and pharmacological strategies for overcoming potential barriers to medication adherence. Potential interactions between the various classes of antidepressants and HIVantiretroviral therapy, as well as management of HIV medication-related psychiatric adverse effects, are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-639
Number of pages17
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 20 2011



  • Antidepressants
  • Antiretrovirals
  • Depression
  • Drug-interactions
  • HIV-infections
  • Major-depressive-disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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