Brain Injury May Continue During HIV Treatment
BY Bob Adams
March 31 2004 1:00 AM ET
University of California, San Francisco, researchers reported at the 11th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections that HIV-related central nervous system complications, particularly the loss of white matter from the brain, can continue even in the presence of antiretroviral therapy.
Magnetic resonance imaging and other tests showed that HIV-positive people on antiretroviral therapy had greater rates of ongoing white matter loss than their HIV-negative peers. Study subjects with the highest viral loads and lowest CD4-cell counts had the most significant white matter loss, according to researchers.
The scientists conclude that HIV-positive people on anti-HIV drug regimens, particularly those with unsuppressed virus, may experience ongoing brain damage. It was unclear whether the damage is caused by HIV itself or by the drugs used to treat it. 'Although ongoing [white matter loss] is not accompanied by cognitive impairment, it is possible that the cumulative effects of ongoing brain damage may produce such impairments in the future,' the researchers said.