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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2003 Apr;25(2):201-15.

Fatigue in HIV/AIDS is associated with depression and subjective neurocognitive complaints but not neuropsychological functioning.

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Mental Health Service and Inner City Health Research Unit, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ont, Canada.


Fatigue and depressive symptoms are common in HIV-infection. The relationship between these symptoms and neuropsychological functioning is poorly understood, particularly in symptomatic infection/AIDS. This study examined the associations among fatigue, depressive symptoms, subjective neurocognitive complaints, and objective neuropsychological performance in HIV/AIDS. Sixty-eight men with HIV-infection (27 adults with HIV-infection but not AIDS and 41 with AIDS diagnosis) completed a neuropsychological test battery and self-report measures of fatigue (Fatigue Severity Scale), depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory), and subjective neurocognitive complaints (Patient's Assessment of Own Functioning). High levels of fatigue were endorsed by participants. Fatigue severity was related to depressive symptoms but not to AIDS diagnosis or medication status. Verbal learning and motor function was worse in participants with AIDS, but neuropsychological functioning was not significantly correlated with fatigue or depressive symptoms. Subjective neurocognitive complaints were predicted by both depressive symptoms and fatigue. Our results suggest that adults with fatigue and HIV-infection (with or without AIDS) should be screened for depression. Neither fatigue nor depressive symptoms appear to affect neuropsychological functioning in HIV/AIDS. Future research is needed to develop and evaluate instruments and methods to differentiate depression-related fatigue from fatigue that may reflect underlying medical disease. Such research will further the development of effective treatments for fatigue associated with HIV-infection.

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