TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Brain scan shows cognitive deficits in HIV patients

Neuroscientists from the Georgetown University Medical Center recently conducted a study that uses brain scans to show the cognitive deficits found in older adults who have HIV infections.

The patients involved in the study took a standard neuropsychology test. Their scores showed that they were “cognitively normal," but brain scans disagreed with the test.

The study, which was published in AIDS Care journal, used the functional MRI (fMRI) scans to watch the subjects’ brains as they took the test. The neuropsychology exam showed the patients alternating face-gender and word-semantic tasks. The results showed that the HIV-positive patients had poor cognitive functioning when they were compared to their healthy counterparts.

This phenomenon is known as the HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND). It is one of the most frequently seen disorders that affects people who have HIV. Between 30 percent and 60 percent of people who have HIV infections also have HAND. There are no treatments available.

"These findings, although preliminary, could have a significant implication for public health," Xiong Jiang, a neuroscientist and the lead author of the new study, said. "While there is no proven treatment that can effectively treat HAND other than control HIV replication, it is important for caregivers, families and the individuals themselves to know if they are affected."

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