Neurological Complications of AIDS Information Page

Neurological Complications of AIDS Information Page


What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supports research on the neurological consequences of AIDS.  The NINDS works closely with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which has primary responsibility for research related to HIV and AIDS.

Several NINDS-funded projects are studying the role of virally infected brain macrophages (cells that normally work to protect against infection) in causing disease in the central nervous system of adult macaques.  The focus of these projects includes gene analyses and the study of key neuroimmune regulatory molecules that are turned on in the brain during the course of viral infection at levels that have been shown to be toxic.  Other researchers are developing animal models of the disease, which helps in understanding disease mechanisms and may lead to new treatments in humans.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Living with HIV/AIDS

×
What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supports research on the neurological consequences of AIDS.  The NINDS works closely with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which has primary responsibility for research related to HIV and AIDS.

Several NINDS-funded projects are studying the role of virally infected brain macrophages (cells that normally work to protect against infection) in causing disease in the central nervous system of adult macaques.  The focus of these projects includes gene analyses and the study of key neuroimmune regulatory molecules that are turned on in the brain during the course of viral infection at levels that have been shown to be toxic.  Other researchers are developing animal models of the disease, which helps in understanding disease mechanisms and may lead to new treatments in humans.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Living with HIV/AIDS

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supports research on the neurological consequences of AIDS.  The NINDS works closely with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which has primary responsibility for research related to HIV and AIDS.

Several NINDS-funded projects are studying the role of virally infected brain macrophages (cells that normally work to protect against infection) in causing disease in the central nervous system of adult macaques.  The focus of these projects includes gene analyses and the study of key neuroimmune regulatory molecules that are turned on in the brain during the course of viral infection at levels that have been shown to be toxic.  Other researchers are developing animal models of the disease, which helps in understanding disease mechanisms and may lead to new treatments in humans.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Living with HIV/AIDS

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Definition
Definition
Treatment
Treatment
Prognosis
Prognosis
Clinical Trials
Clinical Trials
Organizations
Organizations
Publications
Publications
Definition
Definition

AIDS is primarily an immune system disorder caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but it can also affect the nervous system. HIV does not appear to directly invade nerve cells but it jeopardizes their health and function, causing symptoms such as confusion, forgetfulness, behavioral changes, headaches, progressive weakness and loss of sensation in the arms and legs, cognitive motor impairment, or damage to the peripheral nerves. Other complications that can occur as a result of HIV infection or the drugs used to treat it include pain, seizures, shingles, spinal cord problems, lack of coordination, difficult or painful swallowing, anxiety disorder, depression, fever, vision loss, gait disorders, destruction of brain tissue, and coma. Other AIDS-related nervous system disorders may be caused by certain cancers or by illnesses that would not otherwise affect people with healthy immune systems.

Among the most common neurological complications are: AIDS dementia complex, causing symptoms such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), behavioral changes, and a gradual decline in cognitive function; central nervous system lymphomas, cancerous tumors that either begin in the brain or result from a cancer that has spread from another site in the body; cryptococcal meningitis; cytomegalovirus infections; herpes virus infections; neuropathy; neurosyphilis; progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML); and psychological and neuropsychiatric disorders.

×
Definition

AIDS is primarily an immune system disorder caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but it can also affect the nervous system. HIV does not appear to directly invade nerve cells but it jeopardizes their health and function, causing symptoms such as confusion, forgetfulness, behavioral changes, headaches, progressive weakness and loss of sensation in the arms and legs, cognitive motor impairment, or damage to the peripheral nerves. Other complications that can occur as a result of HIV infection or the drugs used to treat it include pain, seizures, shingles, spinal cord problems, lack of coordination, difficult or painful swallowing, anxiety disorder, depression, fever, vision loss, gait disorders, destruction of brain tissue, and coma. Other AIDS-related nervous system disorders may be caused by certain cancers or by illnesses that would not otherwise affect people with healthy immune systems.

Among the most common neurological complications are: AIDS dementia complex, causing symptoms such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), behavioral changes, and a gradual decline in cognitive function; central nervous system lymphomas, cancerous tumors that either begin in the brain or result from a cancer that has spread from another site in the body; cryptococcal meningitis; cytomegalovirus infections; herpes virus infections; neuropathy; neurosyphilis; progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML); and psychological and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Treatment
Treatment

No single treatment can cure the neurological complications of AIDS.  Some disorders require aggressive therapy while others are treated symptomatically.

Medicines range from analgesics sold over the counter to antiepileptic drugs, opiates, corticosteroids, and some classes of antidepressants. Other treatments include radiation therapy or chemotherapy to kill or shrink cancerous brain tumors that may be caused by HIV, antifungal or antimalarial drugs to combat certain bacterial infections, and penicillin to treat neurosyphilis.  Aggressive antiretroviral therapy is used to treat AIDS dementia complex, PML, and cytomegalovirus encephalitis.  HAART, or highly active antiretroviral therapy, combines at least three drugs to reduce the amount of virus circulating in the blood and may also delay the start of some infections.

×
Treatment

No single treatment can cure the neurological complications of AIDS.  Some disorders require aggressive therapy while others are treated symptomatically.

Medicines range from analgesics sold over the counter to antiepileptic drugs, opiates, corticosteroids, and some classes of antidepressants. Other treatments include radiation therapy or chemotherapy to kill or shrink cancerous brain tumors that may be caused by HIV, antifungal or antimalarial drugs to combat certain bacterial infections, and penicillin to treat neurosyphilis.  Aggressive antiretroviral therapy is used to treat AIDS dementia complex, PML, and cytomegalovirus encephalitis.  HAART, or highly active antiretroviral therapy, combines at least three drugs to reduce the amount of virus circulating in the blood and may also delay the start of some infections.

Definition
Definition

AIDS is primarily an immune system disorder caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but it can also affect the nervous system. HIV does not appear to directly invade nerve cells but it jeopardizes their health and function, causing symptoms such as confusion, forgetfulness, behavioral changes, headaches, progressive weakness and loss of sensation in the arms and legs, cognitive motor impairment, or damage to the peripheral nerves. Other complications that can occur as a result of HIV infection or the drugs used to treat it include pain, seizures, shingles, spinal cord problems, lack of coordination, difficult or painful swallowing, anxiety disorder, depression, fever, vision loss, gait disorders, destruction of brain tissue, and coma. Other AIDS-related nervous system disorders may be caused by certain cancers or by illnesses that would not otherwise affect people with healthy immune systems.

Among the most common neurological complications are: AIDS dementia complex, causing symptoms such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), behavioral changes, and a gradual decline in cognitive function; central nervous system lymphomas, cancerous tumors that either begin in the brain or result from a cancer that has spread from another site in the body; cryptococcal meningitis; cytomegalovirus infections; herpes virus infections; neuropathy; neurosyphilis; progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML); and psychological and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Treatment
Treatment

No single treatment can cure the neurological complications of AIDS.  Some disorders require aggressive therapy while others are treated symptomatically.

Medicines range from analgesics sold over the counter to antiepileptic drugs, opiates, corticosteroids, and some classes of antidepressants. Other treatments include radiation therapy or chemotherapy to kill or shrink cancerous brain tumors that may be caused by HIV, antifungal or antimalarial drugs to combat certain bacterial infections, and penicillin to treat neurosyphilis.  Aggressive antiretroviral therapy is used to treat AIDS dementia complex, PML, and cytomegalovirus encephalitis.  HAART, or highly active antiretroviral therapy, combines at least three drugs to reduce the amount of virus circulating in the blood and may also delay the start of some infections.

Prognosis
Prognosis

The overall prognosis for individuals with AIDS in recent years has improved significantly because of new drugs and treatments. AIDS clinicians often fail to recognize neurological complications of AIDS. Those who suspect they are having neurological complications should be sure to discuss these with their doctor.

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The overall prognosis for individuals with AIDS in recent years has improved significantly because of new drugs and treatments. AIDS clinicians often fail to recognize neurological complications of AIDS. Those who suspect they are having neurological complications should be sure to discuss these with their doctor.

Prognosis
Prognosis

The overall prognosis for individuals with AIDS in recent years has improved significantly because of new drugs and treatments. AIDS clinicians often fail to recognize neurological complications of AIDS. Those who suspect they are having neurological complications should be sure to discuss these with their doctor.

Definition

AIDS is primarily an immune system disorder caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but it can also affect the nervous system. HIV does not appear to directly invade nerve cells but it jeopardizes their health and function, causing symptoms such as confusion, forgetfulness, behavioral changes, headaches, progressive weakness and loss of sensation in the arms and legs, cognitive motor impairment, or damage to the peripheral nerves. Other complications that can occur as a result of HIV infection or the drugs used to treat it include pain, seizures, shingles, spinal cord problems, lack of coordination, difficult or painful swallowing, anxiety disorder, depression, fever, vision loss, gait disorders, destruction of brain tissue, and coma. Other AIDS-related nervous system disorders may be caused by certain cancers or by illnesses that would not otherwise affect people with healthy immune systems.

Among the most common neurological complications are: AIDS dementia complex, causing symptoms such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), behavioral changes, and a gradual decline in cognitive function; central nervous system lymphomas, cancerous tumors that either begin in the brain or result from a cancer that has spread from another site in the body; cryptococcal meningitis; cytomegalovirus infections; herpes virus infections; neuropathy; neurosyphilis; progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML); and psychological and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Treatment

No single treatment can cure the neurological complications of AIDS.  Some disorders require aggressive therapy while others are treated symptomatically.

Medicines range from analgesics sold over the counter to antiepileptic drugs, opiates, corticosteroids, and some classes of antidepressants. Other treatments include radiation therapy or chemotherapy to kill or shrink cancerous brain tumors that may be caused by HIV, antifungal or antimalarial drugs to combat certain bacterial infections, and penicillin to treat neurosyphilis.  Aggressive antiretroviral therapy is used to treat AIDS dementia complex, PML, and cytomegalovirus encephalitis.  HAART, or highly active antiretroviral therapy, combines at least three drugs to reduce the amount of virus circulating in the blood and may also delay the start of some infections.

Prognosis

The overall prognosis for individuals with AIDS in recent years has improved significantly because of new drugs and treatments. AIDS clinicians often fail to recognize neurological complications of AIDS. Those who suspect they are having neurological complications should be sure to discuss these with their doctor.

What research is being done?

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), one part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supports research on the neurological consequences of AIDS.  The NINDS works closely with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which has primary responsibility for research related to HIV and AIDS.

Several NINDS-funded projects are studying the role of virally infected brain macrophages (cells that normally work to protect against infection) in causing disease in the central nervous system of adult macaques.  The focus of these projects includes gene analyses and the study of key neuroimmune regulatory molecules that are turned on in the brain during the course of viral infection at levels that have been shown to be toxic.  Other researchers are developing animal models of the disease, which helps in understanding disease mechanisms and may lead to new treatments in humans.

Information from the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
Living with HIV/AIDS

Patient Organizations
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
120 Wall Street
13th Floor
New York
NY
New York, NY 10005-3908
Tel: 212-806-1600
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
1140 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 200
Washington
DC
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-296-9165; 888-499-HOPE (4673)
National Association of People with AIDS
8401 Colesville Road
Suite 505
Silver Spring
MD
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Tel: 240-247-0880; 866-846-9366
National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium
401 N. Washington Street
Suite 700
Rockville
MD
Rockville, MD 20850
Tel: 866-668-2272; 301-251-1161 (x186)
National Prevention Information Network
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville
MD
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
Tel: 301-562-1098; 800-458-5231
NIAID Office of Communications and Government Relations
National Institutes of Health, DHHS
5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9806
Bethesda
MD
Bethesda, MD 20892
Tel: 301-496-5717
Publications

Information booklet about Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, and other types of dementia compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Patient Organizations