People who experience episodes of major depressive disorder (MDD) are significantly more likely to have episodes of detectable HIV in their cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), according to an analysis of the large CHARTER study presented as a late-breaker poster at the 53rd Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) last week in Denver.
…At study entry, 18% of participants overall were found to have detectable HIV in their CSF despite undetectable blood viral load. People with major depression were nearly twice as likely to have CSF viral escape than non-depressed participants: 26 vs 16% (p = 0.016; adjusted odds ratio 2.10).
…Over 18 months of follow-up (2736 total person-months), cumulative incidence of CSF viral escape was again significantly higher among people with MDD compared to non-depressed participants (p<0.05).
…”MDD is associated with increased risk for CSF viral escape,” the researchers concluded. “Ongoing CSF viral replication may occur in more persons than previously estimated. Evaluation and treatment of depression may improve HIV control.”
From the Rethinking angle, you could say that depression leads to the release of a chemical into the spine that flags as HIV, but which is not. This is compatible with the view that physicomental stress expresses signs of AIDS, but those signs are not the cause.