Apathy in persons living with HIV disease: A systematic narrative review


BACKGROUND: Apathy was identified as a feature of HIV early in the epidemic; however, there are no systematic reviews of the diverse literature on the sociodemographic and clinical correlates of apathy in HIV disease. METHODS: The current study adopted a hybrid systematic-narrative review methodology in which we used PRISMA guidelines to identify, summarize, and critique peer-reviewed, empirical studies of apathy in HIV disease in the era of combination antiretroviral therapy. RESULTS: A total of 34 studies of apathy in persons living with HIV (PLWH) were identified. Findings across these studies showed that apathy was reliably related to the structure of grey and white matter pathways commonly implicated in apathy, poorer everyday functioning, education, and other neuropsychiatric symptoms (e.g., depression). Apathy was not reliably associated with age, sex, race/ethnicity, cognition, and clinical markers of HIV disease. LIMITATIONS: The current review does not provide rigorous quantitative estimates of clinical correlates of apathy, and the exclusion criteria of non-English and non-peer reviewed publications introduces risk of bias and Type I error. CONCLUSIONS: Apathy occurs at higher rates in PLWH and is linked to neuroanatomical differences, as well as negative outcomes for everyday functions, aspects of neurocognition, and neuropsychiatric symptoms. As such, apathy is an important component to consider in the clinical assessment, diagnosis, and management of neurocognitive disorders in PLWH. Future work is needed to replicate existing findings with larger sample sizes and longitudinal designs, examine apathy as a multi-dimensional construct, and develop evidence-based treatments for apathy in PLWH.


Thompson JL, Woods SP, Medina LD, Garcia JM, Teixeira AL




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Mental Health
    • Other


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