HIV-positive women who spend more time living with depression have a higher risk of death, aidsmap reports.

Publishing their findings in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) analyzed data on a cohort of 818 women who started antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in 1998 or later. The women all entered the study before they started HIV treatment.

Using a measure known as the CESD-R scale, the researchers assessed the women’s depression upon entry into the study and then at six-month intervals for up to five years.

The women had a median age of 38 when they entered the study. Two thirds were African American. Their median initial CD4 count was 438, and their median viral load was 3,160.

Ninety-four of the women died during a cumulative 3,292 years of follow-up (women were followed for a median 4.8 years), for a death rate of 2.9 percent per year.

Fifty-three percent of the women had depression during the study’s follow-up, for a median 366 cumulative days. The median number of days of depression was 435 among the women who died compared with 355 days among those who did not.

According to the study authors’ analysis, each relative additional year spent living with depression was associated with a 72 percent increase in the women’s risk of death.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.