HIV linked to cognitive defects in individuals, despite antiretroviral therapy


Data from a US clinical trial has suggested that, despite long-term antiretroviral treatment (ART), cells harbouring HIV can persist in the cerebrospinal fluid and are linked with a higher likelihood of cognitive defects.

Latent infection with HIV is well documented, with recurrence of active infection once ART is stopped. In this study the researchers also wanted to investigate the persistence of HIV in the central nervous system, specifically the cerebrospinal fluid.

The team examined the cerebrospinal fluid from 69 individuals living with HIV, all of whom had been receiving ART for an average of 9 years. The researchers discovered that almost half of participants harboured HIV DNA in the cerebrospinal fluid, and of these individuals, 30% met criteria for cognitive impairment, compared with 11% of individuals without cerebrospinal HIV DNA.

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