Introduction: Mental health symptoms and cognitive impairment are highly prevalent and intertwined among aging people living with HIV (PLWH). This study aimed to assess the interrelationships and strength of connections between individual mental health symptoms and cognitive impairment. We sought to identify specific symptoms linking mental health and cognitive impairment in aging PLWH. Methods: Participants in the Sichuan Older People with HIV Infections Cohort Study (SOHICS) were recruited between November 2018 and April 2021 in China. Mental health symptoms, including depression and anxiety, were assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), respectively. Cognitive impairment was assessed by the Montreal Cognitive Assessment-Basic (MoCA-B). Partial correlation networks were used to depict the interrelationships between mental health symptoms and cognitive impairment, and bridge strength was used to identify specific symptoms linking mental health and cognitive impairment. Results: Of the 1,587 recruited participants with a mean age of 63.0 years old, 47.0% had mild or severe cognitive impairment. Network analysis revealed that cognitive function, visual perception, and problem-solving task of the MoCA-B were negatively correlated with appetite, energy, and motor of the PHQ-9, respectively. Based on their interrelationships, problem-solving task and motor acted as bridge symptoms. Conclusion:Problem-solving task and motor may be potential intervention targets to reduce the overall risk of mental health symptoms and cognitive impairment. Future research could assess the feasibility and effectiveness of specific interventions designed for the two symptoms of aging PLWH.

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