One in four people infected with HIV suffer from neurological complications, new Canadian research reveals.
And those that do have such problems harbour double the risk of dying compared with HIV patients who are not plagued with neurological diseases, the study authors reported in journal Neurology.
"The good news is that people with HIV are living much longer now that we have antiretroviral therapies," Dr Chris Power, a professor of neurology at the universities of Alberta and Calgary, said in a news release from Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions, a new agency funded by the government of Alberta, Canada.
But the bad news is that "this study proves without a doubt that neurological disease is a major cause of disability for people with HIV," added Power, who is also the Canada research chair in neurological infection and immunity.
Power and his colleagues based their assessment on work they conducted with 1,651 HIV patients who were receiving treatment between 1998 and 2008.
Of these, 404 had neurological problems, such as seizures, dementia, nerve pain in the limbs, memory loss, headaches/migraines, opportunistic infections of the central nervous system and movement disorders.
The study authors also found that brain disorders appeared to be twice as common among patients with full-blown Aids compared with those whose HIV infection had not advanced to that stage.
"That motivates us to look closely at which drugs are working well, design optimal drug combinations to reduce brain diseases, and to explore in the lab new drugs that we can use to protect the brain," Power said.
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