Skip to main content

Bipolar Disorder Predicts More Days With Unsuppressed HIV Viral Load

November 19, 2019

People with HIV who have bipolar disorders or untreated depressive disorders experience more days with unsuppressed HIV viral load compared with people with HIV who do not have mood disorders, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 

The observational study included approximately 5900 adults with HIV who received primary care at 1 of 14 HIV clinics in Washington, DC, between 2011 and 2018. The median age of participants was 51; 70% were men, and 82% were Black. Some 45% had at least 1 psychiatric disorder. 

Compared with no mood disorder, untreated major depressive disorder, untreated depressive, and bipolar disorder—both untreated and treated—predicted more days with an HIV viral load of ≥200 copies/mL, according to the study. Compared with no anxiety disorder, treated anxiety disorders predicted less time spent with an HIV viral load of ≥200 copies/mL. 

Among study participants with mood disorders, just 50% received pharmacologic treatment for them. Meanwhile, 64% of participants with anxiety or stress-/trauma-related disorders received treatment.

“Treatment of mood disorders may be important for promoting sustained viral suppression,” researchers advised. 

Jolynn Tumolo


Levy ME, Monroe AK, Horberg MA, et al. Pharmacologic treatment of psychiatric disorders and time with unsuppressed HIV viral load in a clinical HIV cohort [published online November 1, 2019]. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2019;82(3):329-341. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002138

Back to Top