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BACKGROUND: Published research on depression among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) from Africa is increasing, but data from Kenya remains scarce. This cross-sectional study measured the prevalence and correlates of depressive symptoms among PLWHA in rural Kilifi, on the Kenyan coast. METHODS: Between February and April 2018, we consecutively recruited and interviewed 450 adults living with HIV and on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Depressive symptoms were assessed with the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), with a positive depression screen defined as PHQ-9 score ≥ 10. Measures of psychosocial, health, and treatment characteristics were also administered. RESULTS: The overall prevalence of depressive symptoms was 13.8% (95% Confidence Interval (95%CI): 10.9, 17.3). Multivariable logistic regression analysis identified current comorbid chronic illness (adjusted Odds Ratio (aOR) 5.72, 95% CI: 2.28, 14.34; p < 0.001), cART regimen (aOR 6.93, 95%CI: 2.34, 20.49; p < 0.001), perceived HIV-related stigma (aOR 1.10, 95%CI: 1.05, 1.14, p < 0.001) and difficulties accessing HIV care and treatment services (aOR 2.37, 95%CI: 1.14, 4.91; p = 0.02) as correlates of depressive symptoms. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of depressive symptoms among adults living with HIV on the Kenyan coast is high. Those at high risk for elevated depressive symptoms (e.g., with comorbid chronic illnesses, on second-line cART, experiencing perceived HIV-stigma or with problems accessing HIV care) may benefit from early identification, treatment or referral, which requires integration of mental health programmes into HIV primary care.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Psychiatry

Publication Date





Correlates, Depressive symptoms, HIV/AIDS, Kenya, Prevalence, cART, Adult, Comorbidity, Cross-Sectional Studies, Depression, Female, HIV, HIV Infections, Humans, Kenya, Male, Odds Ratio, Prevalence, Rural Population, Social Stigma, Young Adult