People with HIV have an exceptional high rate of depression.

Estimates for HIV-positive people who suffer from depression range from 45% to as high 60%. This rate is remarkable compared to the rest of the population whose rate is 10% or less.

Depression tends to be overlooked due to the fact that HIV primary care physicians are not adequately trained to recognize depression.

Just because someone is HIV-positive doesn’t mean he or she suffers from depression. However, there is a high correlation and it is compounded by stigma.

Depression is more than that occasional “feeling down” or sad feel that passes in a day or two. When you suffer from depression, it feels like an intense aching sadness that lasts can last for days, weeks or much longer.

Problems Associated with Depression

  • Depression can make HIV progress faster.
  • Depression can also be mistaken for advancing HIV.
  • The HIV-positive person suffering from depression may not take their medications properly or according to schedule and miss doses altogether.
  • They can engage in high-risk behaviors that can lead to transmission.
  • They may suffer from self-destructive behavior including drugs and alcohol addictions.
  • Lower quality of life
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.

Signs of Depression

  • Feelings of sadness, anxiety or being “empty”
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, guilt, shame
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or sex
  • Fatigue / Decreased energy
  • Problems concentrating
  • Decreased appetite / weight loss

Treatment for Depression

  • Exercise
  • Increased exposure to sunlight
  • Counseling with a medical professional
  • Antidepressants

For more information:

National Institute of Mental Health

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please speak with your doctor immediately or call:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1 (800) 273 -8255


The Trevor Project

Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people 13-24

Trevor Lifeline 1 (866) 488-7386