Neuropsychological Dysfunction among HIV Infected Drug Abusers
Ramani S. Durvasula and Charles H. Hinkin
DOI : 10.3844/ajidsp.2006.67.73
American Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 2, Issue 2
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has been documented to cause direct and indirect central nervous system dysfunction that can be observed as a progressive decline in neuropsychological functioning in a large proportion of persons with HIV and AIDS. Neuropsychological decline in individuals with HIV is characterized by cognitive and motor slowing, attentional deficits, executive dysfunction and memory impairment (characterized by intact recognition and deficits in learning and delayed recall). Dementia occurs in a relatively small proportion of HIV infected individuals, though milder NP deficits are observed in 30-50% of persons with advanced disease. Recent evidence suggests that drug users, especially stimulant users, are at risk for accelerated progression of their HIV disease, including a greater risk of neuropsychological dysfunction. Methamphetamine may potentiate HIV Tat protein mediated neurotoxicity giving rise to striatal proinflammatory cytokine stimulation and activation of redox-regulated transcription factors. Oxidative stress due to mitochondrial dysfunction is another candidate process underlying the synergistic effects of stimulant use and HIV. Damage to neurotransmitter systems including the dopaminergic, serotonergic and glutamatergic systems which are affected by both stimulant use and HIV is an alternate explanation. Methamphetamine has also been shown to impede the effectiveness of HAART, which could then in turn allow for more rapid HIV disease progression. A greater prevalence of psychiatric disorders, particularly mood, anxiety and substance use disorders are also observed in HIV positive samples relative to the general population. The changing nature of the HIV pandemic is an ongoing challenge to investigators and clinicians working in this field. Emerging issues requiring additional attention are study of the interactive effects of normal aging and HIV on neurocognition as well as study of the effects of co-infection with Hepatitis C.
© 2006 Ramani S. Durvasula and Charles H. Hinkin. 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.