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NeuroAIDS: An Evolving Epidemic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2014

Christopher Power*
Departments of Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Lysa Boissé
Department of Medicine, Queen’s University, Kingston
Sean Rourke
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada
M. John Gill
Departments of Medicine, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB
Department of Medicine (Neurology), 6-11 Heritage Medical Research Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2S2, Canada
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Over 60,000 Canadians are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Greater than 50% of these individuals will develop a neurological disorder despite the availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy. HIV causes nervous system disease at all stages of infection with adverse effects on quality of life, adherence to medications, employment and survival. These disorders include opportunistic infections in addition to distinct HIV-associated neurological syndromes and undesirable treatment-related effects. The latter two groups of disorders are often undiagnosed and untreated in both adolescents and adults. Direct HIV infection of central nervous system causes HIV-associated dementia, which is a progressive subcortical dementia. HIV infection of the peripheral nervous system produces a painful sensory neuropathy termed distal sensory polyneuropathy, which may be exacerbated by several antiretroviral drugs. Other important HIV-induced neurological disorders include vacuolar myelopathy and an increased risk of seizures. Future issues that will confound the presentation and treatment of HIV-induced nervous system disorders include the increasing prevalence of drug-resistant HIV strains, increasing age of HIV-infected patients, hepatitis C virus co-infection and the Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome. Herein, we review the clinical presentations, underlying pathogenesis and treatments of this burgeoning group of neurological disorders.

Review Article
Copyright © The Canadian Journal of Neurological 2009


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