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Antidepressant Efficacy in HIV-Seropositive Outpatients With Major Depressive Disorder: An Open Trial of Nefazodone

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60:226-231
10.4088/JCP.v60n0404

Background:Treatment studies of major depression in patients who are seropositive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have shown comparable efficacy for both tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Nefazodone appears to be more tolerable than TCAs and similar to SSRIs. This study examined the efficacy and tolerability of nefazodone in an open 12-week trial of HIV-seropositive outpatients with major depressive disorder.

Method: Fifteen HIV-seropositive patients with DSM-IV major depressive disorder and a 21-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) score of 18 were treated with open-label nefazodone for 12 weeks. Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety, HAM-D, Clinical Global Impressions scale, and Systematic Assessment for Treatment Emergent Events general inquiry (for safety and tolerability) scores were obtained at weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12.

Results:Of 15 patients receiving nefazodone, 4 discontinued treatment (1 for adverse effects). Of 11 patients who completed the trial, 8 (73%) were classified as full responders with a 50% reduction in HAM-D scores and final CGI score of 1 or 2, and 10 (91%) were classified as partial responders (only 50% reduction in HAM-D scores). Nefazodone-treated subjects experienced few total adverse effects (mean = 1.5), no sexual side effects, and low rates of adverse-effect-related dropout (1 subject, 7%).

Conclusion:Depressed HIV-seropositive outpatients respond to nefazodone comparably to other outpatient populations and have few adverse effects, suggesting that nefazodone may have a role in the treatment of depression in HIV-seropositive patients. Potential drug interactions with protease inhibitors indicate that it is essential to evaluate for appropriate dosing to avoid adverse effects and increase overall antidepressant efficacy.