Treatment of Perinatal Depression and Correlates of Treatment Response Among Pregnant Women Living with HIV in Uganda

Document Type


Publication Date



Pediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Journal Title

Maternal and child health journal


INTRODUCTION: Perinatal depression is common among women living with HIV, but depression care is limited in low-resource settings. We examined (1) characteristics of women receiving Problem Solving Therapy (PST) versus antidepressant therapy (ADT), (2) treatment response by modality, and (3) correlates of treatment response. METHODS: This analysis used data from 191 Ugandan women in the intervention arm of a cluster randomized controlled trial of task-shifted, stepped-care depression treatment for pregnant women living with HIV (PWLWH). Treatment response was defined as scoring < 5 on the nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Bivariate analysis and multivariable logistic regression were used to examine characteristics of women by treatment group and correlates of treatment response. RESULTS: Of 134 participants with depression, 129 (96%) were treated: 84 (65%) received PST and 45 (35%) received ADT. Severe depression at treatment initiation was more common in those receiving ADT (28.9% versus 4.8%, Fischer's Exact Test < 0.001). Treatment response was higher for PST (70/84; 83.3%) than ADT (30/45; 66.7%; p = .03). ADT side effects were rare and minor; no infants had serious congenital defects. Of 22 participants (19%) who did not respond to treatment, only five received intensified management. Social support and interpersonal violence were associated with treatment response (adjusted odds ratio, [aOR] = 3.06, 95% CI = 1.08-8.66 and aOR = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.44-0.93). DISCUSSION: Both depression treatment modalities yielded high response rates in Ugandan PWLWH; ADT was well-tolerated. Our results highlight a need to build capacity to implement the stepped-care protocol for non-responders and screen for social support and interpersonal violence.