The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health and Substance Use among People with and without HIV

Morgan Zabel, Tony W. Wilson, Harlan Sayles, Pamela E. May, Renae Furl, Sara H. Bares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


People with HIV (PWH) may be particularly vulnerable to the psychological impacts of COVID-19. To assess this, participants were recruited from two established cohorts of PWH and HIV− adults with the available pre-pandemic baseline data and completed the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Alcohol Use Identification Test (AUDIT), National Institute on Drug Abuse Quick Screen (NIDA-QS), and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) at two distinct intra-pandemic time periods. All outcomes were evaluated using generalized linear mixed models. In total, 87 participants completed all the questionnaires; 45 were PWH and 42 were HIV−. The pre-pandemic mean BDI-II, BAI, AUDIT and PSQI scores were higher in the PWH cohort. After the onset of the pandemic, the mean BDI-II, AUDIT and PSQI scores increased within the sample as a whole (p < 0.001, p = 0.029 and p = 0.046, respectively). The intra-pandemic mean BDI-II scores fell slightly for both groups and the AUDIT scores increased slightly for the PWH group and fell slightly for the HIV− group, but not significantly. The intra-pandemic PSQI scores increased sharply for both groups. The percentage of PWH and HIV− participants who moved into a more severe category of depression was identical (18%), but more PWH met the criteria for clinical evaluation. The BAI and NIDA-QS scores did not increase significantly. In conclusion, the measures of mental health symptoms and alcohol use increased in both groups after the onset of the pandemic. Although there were no significant differences in the changes between the groups, the PWH had higher baseline scores and the changes in this group had more clinical impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number461
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • COVID-19
  • HIV
  • mental health
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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