Depressive symptoms and their determinants in patients who are on antiretroviral therapy in the case of a low-income country, Ethiopia: A systematic review and meta-analysis


Background: The presence of depression in people living with HIV/AIDS could lead to non-adherence to antiretroviral medications. It also leads to further comorbid and opportunistic illness and then lowering the patient’s quality of life. The objective of this study was therefore to determine the pooled prevalence of depression and its related factors in HIV patients.

Methods: Relevant articles in PubMed, Scopus, and EMBASE were investigated. The Meta-XL version 5.3 was used to extract data and STATA-11 Meta-prop packages with the Random effect model was used to quantify depression and its related factors. Sensitivity and subgroup analysis were performed to explore sources of heterogeneity. The Cochran’s Q-statistic and the Higgs I2 test were also done. Besides, the Eggers test and symmetry in the funnel plot were used to detect the presence/absence of publication bias.

Result: In this meta-analysis, we included 21 articles that assessed 10,090 participants. The average prevalence of depression among people with HIV/AIDS was 35.8% (95% CI 28.29, 43.25). The average estimated prevalence of depressive symptoms was 59.4% in the Oromia region and 29.25% in southern Ethiopia. Besides, the average prevalence of depression was 45.6% and 26.2% as measured with Beck’s depression inventory and Hospital anxiety and depression scale respectively. Moreover, the prevalence of depression was 47.7% in studies that used a sample size ≤ of 400 participants and 28.5% in studies that used a sample size of > 400 participants. The pooled adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of perceived HIV stigma was 3.75 (95% CI 2.34, 5.16) and that of poor social support was 6.22 (95% CI 2.96, 9.47). Moreover, the average odds ratio of poor medication adherence, opportunistic infection, and advanced stages of AIDS were 3.03 (95% CI 1.00, 5.05), 5.5 (95% CI 1.97, 10.03), and 5.43 (95% CI 1.60, 9.28) respectively.

Conclusion: The pooled prevalence of depression among individuals living with HIV/AIDS was high. Factors such as perceived HIV stigma, poor social support, opportunistic infection, advanced AIDS stage, and poor medication adherence were related to it. Routine screening and management of depression and its related factors should be given due consideration.


Necho M, Belete A, Tsehay M




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Mental Health
    • Depression


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