HealthDay News — Many HIV-infected patients have chronic pain, which frequently co-occurs with high levels of depression symptoms, according to a study published online in Pain Medicine.

Lisa A. Uebelacker, PhD, from the Butler Hospital in Providence, R.I., and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 238 HIV-infected primary care patients at three primary care sites. Self-report and chart-review information were collected on demographics, HIV clinical status, chronic pain, depression, substance use, and mental health and pain treatment.

The researchers found that 107 participants reported no chronic pain, 24 reported mild chronic pain, and 107 reported moderate-severe chronic pain

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Participants were more likely to have high levels of depressive symptoms in the moderate-severe pain group versus the no chronic pain group. A significant correlation was seen between chronic pain status and interference with life activities due to pain. 

The likelihood of taking an antidepressant medication was increased for participants with moderate-severe chronic pain versus those with mild chronic pain; prescription opioid use was more likely for those with moderate-severe chronic pain versus those with mild or no chronic pain. There was no correlation between problematic substance use and chronic pain status.

“Despite pharmacologic treatment, moderate-severe chronic pain and elevated depression symptoms are common among HIV-infected patients and frequently co-occur,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


1. Uebelacker L, et al. Pain Med. 2015; doi:10.1111/pme.12799.

This article originally appeared on Infectious Disease Advisor