Background: There are approximately 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV, and 25.6% of HIV-positive adults suffer from depression. The purpose of this study is to examine the contribution of depression to substance use and medication adherence among HIV-positive adults receiving medical care for HIV in Georgia.

Methods: Secondary data with a probability sample of 775 HIV-positive adults who took part in the 2009-2013 Georgia Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) were analyzed. Descriptive analyses and multivariate logistic regressions were conducted to assess relationships between depression and current cigarette smoking, injection drug use, other non-injection drug use, and medication adherence, adjusting for sociodemographic covariates (age, gender, race, and education). All analyses accounted for non-response and complex sampling design.

Results: Among HIV-positive adults in Georgia, 8.5% met the criteria for major depression, including 13.7% of women and 6.5% of men. Heterosexual adults had a higher percentage of major depression (10.7%) compared to adults who identified as bisexual (7.4%) or homosexual (5.8%). Major depression was also higher among adults with a high school diploma or GED (12.7%) compared to adults with a higher level of education (5.2%). Major depression was associated with a greater odds of current cigarette smoking (AOR 2.7; 95% CI: 1.5, 5.2) and other non-injection drug use (2.5; 95% CI: 1.4, 4.4), after adjusting for sociodemographic variables. The three measures of medication adherence were not statistically significantly associated with major depression.

Conclusions: As previously observed for the general population, we found, among HIV-positive adults, significant associations between depression and smoking and other non-injection drug use. Because HIVpositive adults have ongoing encounters with healthcare providers, screening and treatment for depression and other co-morbid substance use is needed to reduce an additional health burden in this population.

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