A study conducted by the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy found that 28% of low-income pregnant women with HIV are depressed but do not receive adequate treatment. Previous studies have shown that African American women are not only less likely to seek help for their depression, but they very rarely report any symptoms of depression in the first place.

The study involved 431 African American women and 219 white women with depression. Of these women, about 20% reported depressive symptoms, but researchers believe the percentage of depression could be much higher for African American women when compared to whites since the research only found results from women already being treated for depression.

According to earlier studies, African American women are more likely than white women to report physician stereotyping and tend to mistrust the medical community. Studies have shown that African American women do not receive the same quality care as white women; if they were to report signs of depression, they may not be taken seriously. Rajesh Balkrishnan, a coauthor of the study, says physicians have reported feeling unprepared to communicate with minority women regarding depression.

In the future, Balkrishnan believes depression should be screened and treated in pregnant, HIV-positive, minority women. If depression goes untreated in this population, it can sometimes lead to suicide or substance abuse, harming both the mother and baby.

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