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Loneliness, Stigma Explain Depression

Loneliness, Stigma Explain Depression

Service providers and researchers should "assert more aggressive and innovative efforts to resolve both psychosocial and physical health issues that characterize the graying of the AIDS epidemic in the United States," according to the authors of a study published in the May issue of AIDS Care.

Thanks to treatment advances, more adults with HIV are living into their senior years. "These aging adults face added social, psychological, and physical challenges associated with the aging process," the authors note.

Although correlations between depression, loneliness, health, and AIDS-related stigma have been studied, the team noted there has been little evaluation of these associations among HIV-positive adults over age 50. Data for the current analyses were drawn from the Research on Older Adults with HIV study of 914 HIV-positive men and women over age 50 in New York City.

A total of 39.1% of study participants exhibited symptoms of major depression. Multivariate modeling successfully explained 42% of the variance in depression, which was significantly related to increased HIV-associated stigma, increased loneliness, decreased cognitive functioning, reduced energy levels, and being younger.

"Data suggest that focusing efforts to reduce HIV-related stigma and loneliness may have lasting effects in reducing major depressive symptoms and improving perceived health," the authors conclude.

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