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HIV-1 associated dementia: symptoms and causes

Mohammad Ghafouri1, Shohreh Amini2, Kamel Khalili1 and Bassel E Sawaya1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, Center for Neurovirology, Temple University School of Medicine, Pennsylvania 19122, USA

2 Department of Biology, College of Science and Technology, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122, USA

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Retrovirology 2006, 3:28  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-3-28

Published: 19 May 2006


Despite the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), neuronal cell death remains a problem that is frequently found in the brains of HIV-1-infected patients. HAART has successfully prevented many of the former end-stage complications of AIDS, however, with increased survival times, the prevalence of minor HIV-1 associated cognitive impairment appears to be rising among AIDS patients. Further, HIV-1 associated dementia (HAD) is still prevalent in treated patients as well as attenuated forms of HAD and CNS opportunistic disorders. HIV-associated cognitive impairment correlates with the increased presence in the CNS of activated, though not necessarily HIV-1-infected, microglia and CNS macrophages. This suggests that indirect mechanisms of neuronal injury and loss/death occur in HIV/AIDS as a basis for dementia since neurons are not themselves productively infected by HIV-1. In this review, we discussed the symptoms and causes leading to HAD. Outcome from this review will provide new information regarding mechanisms of neuronal loss in AIDS patients.