News Topic HIV-associated dementia

About these topic collections

I’ve been reporting on memory research for over ten years and these topic pages are simply collections of all the news items I have made on a particular topic. They do not pretend to be in any way exhaustive! I cover far too many areas within memory to come anywhere approaching that. What I aim to do is provide breadth, rather than depth. Outside my own area of cognitive psychology, it is difficult to know how much weight to give to any study (I urge you to read my blog post on what constitutes scientific evidence). That (among other reasons) is why my approach in my news reporting is based predominantly on replication and consistency. It's about the aggregate. So here is the aggregate of those reports I have at one point considered of sufficient interest to discuss. If you know of any research you would like to add to the collection, feel free to write about it in a comment (please provide a reference).

Older news items (pre-2010) brought over from the old website

HIV-related memory loss linked to Alzheimer's protein

More than half of HIV patients experience memory problems and other cognitive impairments as they age. Now analysis of biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid have demonstrated how HIV-related cognitive impairment is like Alzheimer's-related dementia, and how it is different. The comparison of 49 HIV patients with cognitive impairments (average age 48), 21 HIV patients with normal cognitive function (average age 43), 68 patients with mild Alzheimer's (average age 74) and 50 normal, healthy controls (average age 50), found similarly low levels of amyloid beta in those HIV patients with cognitive impairments and those with Alzheimer’s — surprising researchers, and confirming an earlier study. Unlike the HIV patients however, those with mild Alzheimer's had significantly higher levels of tau.

[215] Clifford, D. B., Fagan A. M., Holtzman D. M., Morris J. C., Teshome M., Shah A. R., et al. (2009).  CSF biomarkers of Alzheimer disease in HIV-associated neurologic disease. Neurology. WNL.0b013e3181c5b445 - WNL.0b013e3181c5b445.

HIV infection and chronic drinking together impair encoding of new experiences

A study involving 40 individuals with HIV, 38 with chronic alcoholism, 47 with both HIV and chronic alcoholism, and 39 controls, has found that although those with only one of these disorders mostly performed at levels comparable to controls on episodic and working memory tasks, those who were both positive for HIV and had a history of chronic heavy drinking were impaired on tests of immediate episodic memory (but not working memory) — meaning that they have trouble encoding new information for long-term memory. The finding is consistent with the fact that the mediotemporal lobe is affected early by both these conditions. Heavy drinking is very common among those infected with HIV.

[440] Fama, R., Rosenbloom M. J., Nichols N. B., Pfefferbaum A., & Sullivan E. V. (2009).  Working and episodic memory in HIV infection, alcoholism, and their comorbidity: baseline and 1-year follow-up examinations. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. 33(10), 1815 - 1824.

Green tea extract protects against HIV-associated dementia

A compound derived from green tea greatly reduced the neurotoxicity of proteins secreted by the human immunodeficiency virus, suggesting a new approach to the prevention and treatment of HIV-associated dementia.

Brian Giunta reported the findings May 1 at Experimental Biology 2007 in Washington, DC.

AIDS-related cognitive impairment exists in two separate forms

Cognitive impairment in people with AIDS is caused when the HIV virus attacks the brain and can be a complicated syndrome resulting in deficits in mood, behavior, motor coordination and thought processes. While the incidence of severe dementia in people with AIDS has decreased significantly, a greater number of people are living with a milder form of cognitive impairment. A study of 54 participants with AIDS and 23 HIV-negative control subjects has found that cognitive impairment in people with AIDS exists in two forms -- one mild, another severe -- each affecting different areas of the brain. Of the 54 participants with AIDS, 17 demonstrated some level of mental impairment. The mild impairment group only showed problems in the area of psychomotor speed, and demonstrated atrophy in the frontal and anterior cingulate cortices. Those in the severe impairment group showed impairments in memory and visual-spatial processing as well as psychomotor speed, and had more significant atrophy that was located in the caudate and putamen.

The findings were presented April 5 at the American Academy of Neurology 58th Annual Meeting in San Diego.

AIDS inflicts specific pattern of brain damage

A new imaging study has revealed a startlingly selective pattern of destruction inflicted by AIDS on brain regions. Only motor, language and sensory functions were affected. Also surprisingly, there was no difference in brain tissue loss between those taking antiretroviral drugs and those not. It appears that the blood barrier prevents these drugs entering the brain.

[1143] Thompson, P. M., Dutton R. A., Hayashi K. M., Toga A. W., Lopez O. L., Aizenstein H. J., et al. (2005).  Thinning of the cerebral cortex visualized in HIV/AIDS reflects CD4+ T lymphocyte decline. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 102(43), 15647 - 15652.

A friendly reminder for HIV patients

Treating HIV requires patients to rigorously follow a medication schedule; more than most diseases, the virus easily develops a resistance to the drugs if not taken reliably. Moreover, HIV can cause brain damage, making it more difficult for some patients to remember. A device known as Jerry (more formally, the Disease Management Assistance System) flashes a light and verbally tells the patient the exact dosage and medication to take at the correct time. Of the 58 patients in a recent study, those with Jerry took their medication 80% of the time, while those without did so only 65% of the time. The difference was only significant for those with memory impairment: of the 31 memory-impaired patients, those using Jerry had a 77% adherence rate, while those without Jerry had a 57% adherence rate.

[1337] Andrade, A. S. A., McGruder H. F., Wu A. W., Celano S. A., Skolasky R. L., Selnes O. A., et al. (2005).  A programmable prompting device improves adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected subjects with memory impairment. Clinical Infectious Diseases: An Official Publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 41(6), 875 - 882.

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