Physical and Mental Health Screening in a New York City HIV Cohort During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Preliminary Report

Maria Pizzirusso, Cira Carrion-Park, Uraina S. Clark, Jairo Gonzalez, Desiree Byrd, Susan Morgello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background:Mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been observed. Psychiatric symptoms in people living with HIV, and their relationship to physical symptomatology and prior psychopathology, are not yet reported.Setting:An HIV cohort sheltering-in-place in New York City.Methods:Forty-nine participants in a longitudinal study were contacted by telephone in April 2020. A structured interview queried COVID-19-associated physical symptoms, and mental health screens were performed with the generalized anxiety disorder-2 (GAD-2) and patient health questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2). Prior medical and neuropsychiatric data were obtained from preceding study visits. Post-hoc analyses were performed.Results:The mean age of respondents was 62.1 years, 39% were women, and 35% African American, 37% Latinx, and 28% Caucasian. COVID-19-indicator symptoms were present in 69%; 41% had respiratory and 61% extra-pulmonary symptoms. Mental health symptoms were endorsed in 45% with PHQ-2 and 43% with GAD-2, although threshold for major depression was met in only 4% and for GAD in 14%. Higher PHQ scores were associated with respiratory symptoms, but not prior mood or anxiety disorders. GAD-2 scores were higher with past mood disorders, but not with prior anxiety disorders or respiratory symptoms.Conclusions:Physical symptoms were frequent and mild psychiatric symptoms were common, but serious anxiety and depression were not often endorsed by this group of people living with HIV at the acute height of the New York City COVID-19 pandemic. Reasons for this are unclear, as this preliminary report is descriptive in nature. Short- and long-term consequences of acute mental health symptoms require further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E54-E60
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • COVID-19
  • HIV
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mental health


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