American Journal of Infectious Diseases

Neuropsychological Complications of HIV Disease and Substances of Abuse

Lisa R. Norman and Anil Kumar

DOI : 10.3844/ajidsp.2006.115.124

American Journal of Infectious Diseases

Volume 2, Issue 2

Pages 115-124


In the last decade, it has become increasingly apparent that neuropsychological deficits and impairments are associated with HIV infection. Given that antiretroviral therapies have extended the life expectancy of HIV-infected persons, it becomes critical to focus on the physical and mental health of these patients. Understanding the neuropsychology of HIV disease can provide insight into improving mental health, functional capacity and overall quality of life for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, clinicians may be better able to assist patients to manage their symptoms, thereby increasing the number of patients who are able to successfully maintain difficult treatment schedules. In addition, it is equally important to understand the potentially exacerbating effects of various factors. One such factor is substance abuse, which has been associated with various neuropsychological impairments, irrespective of the substance of abuse. Therefore, a more complete understanding of the effects of substance abuse on the progression of impaired cognitive processes and functioning can allow for an enhanced evaluation and management of those patients who live with HIV disease and who suffer from substance abuse disorders. As such, the present paper provides an overview of the neuropsychology of HIV and substance abuse, as well as of the available research that has examined the potential interaction effects between HIV disease and substance abuse. The implications of the findings as well as directions for future research are discussed.


© 2006 Lisa R. Norman and Anil Kumar. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.