Many poor pregnant women with HIV go untreated for depression

It seems logical that programs to screen and manage depression in pregnant, HIV-positive Medicaid patients should already be in place, but they aren't.

It's the kind of glaring oversight that Rajesh Balkrishnan, associate professor at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, said he finds all the time in his research on . Balkrishnan also has an appointment in the School of Public Health.

"We find that many of these things are such common sense that they should already be in place and being done," said Balkrishnan. "Yet, time and again, we find nothing is being done, though these problems exist."

In a recent paper, Balkrishnan and co-authors found that roughly 28 percent of the low-income, HIV-positive reported depression. The numbers could be much higher because the study only captured the women who were being treated for depression.

About 20 percent of the 431 African-American women and 43 percent of the 219 white women in the study reported depression. However, the incidence of depression could be higher for African-American women—twice as many of whom are on and pregnant compared to whites, Balkrishnan said.

Previous studies have shown that African-American women are less likely to seek treatment or report depressive symptoms in the first place; are more likely to report physician stereotyping and sometimes a general mistrust of physicians and the medical community; and do not receive the same quality of care as .

This means if they do report depression, they may not be taken seriously or receive the best treatments, Balkrishnan said. Physicians also have reported feeling undertrained to communicate with African-American and nonwhite women about depression.

"Because African-American women are less likely to seek treatment for their depression, it makes it even more of an issue," Balkrishnan said. "Basically, the takeaway is that depression is very common in this very vulnerable population. I think we need to make sure depression is screened and treated in this population."

Left untreated, depression can lead to suicide or substance abuse that could harm the mother or the fetus, or both.

More information: The paper, "Racial Differences in Perinatal Depression among HIV-Infected Women," appears online in the journal Health Outcomes Research in Medicine. Study: www.healthoutcomesresearch.org… 2%2900012-2/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Migraine linked to increased risk of depression in women

Feb 22, 2012

New research suggests women who have migraine or have had them in the past are at an increased risk for developing depression compared to women who have never had migraine. The study was released today and will be presented ...

Recommended for you

A blood test for suicide?

18 minutes ago

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered a chemical alteration in a single human gene linked to stress reactions that, if confirmed in larger studies, could give doctors a simple blood test to reliably predict a ...

Could summer camp be the key to world peace?

15 hours ago

According to findings from a new study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Jane Risen, and Chicago Booth doctoral student Juliana Schroeder, it may at least be a start.

Gender disparities in cognition will not diminish

Jul 28, 2014

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, investigated the extent to which improvements in living conditions and educational opportunities over a person's life affect cognitive abilities and th ...

Facial features are the key to first impressions

Jul 28, 2014

A new study by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of York shows that it is possible to accurately predict first impressions using measurements of physical features in everyday images of faces, such ...

User comments