HIV associated neurocognitive disorder often occurs in patients infected with HIV. It is a typical observation among patients. For this reason, it dramatically affects performing their daily activities. Additionally, there are more severe cases than this. It can also become symptomatic or asymptomatic. As we move forward with this article, we can find more information here for other health issues of HIV patients like oral thrush, teeth care etc. If you spare us some more time, we can assure you that you will be knowledgeable at the end of this article. That’s a promise! Let’s go!
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is a kind of virus that directly affects the immune system of the body. If an infected person does not receive any treatment, it can progress to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Unfortunately, there is no existing cure for HIV. It only means that the infected person will have it for the rest of their lives.
On the other hand, there is still a way to control HIV and its spread. With the help of an effective HIV treatment, there is still a chance to live longer with healthy lives and manage protection for their partners.
HIV has three stages which are acute, chronic, and the most severe stage, AIDS. HIV transmission can occur through blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, and breast milk. Various tests are available to diagnose this infection.
There is two primary human immunodeficiency virus type. It includes HIV-1, which is the leading cause of all cases of AIDS worldwide. The other one is HIV-2, which causes an AIDS-like illness and is less infectious and progressive.
Symptoms of HIV Infection
Here are a few signs to see if you have an HIV infection.
- muscle pains
- sore throat
- swollen lymph nodes
- mouth ulcers
Note: These symptoms do not automatically indicate an HIV infection as they can also come from other illnesses. It would be best to see a health care provider if you suspect an exposure to HIV.
HIV Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND)
Generally speaking, HIV often targets the central nervous system (CNS). It involves dysfunction at different levels, from asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment to mild neurocognitive disorder. Then, lastly, it reaches the level of HIV associated dementia.
Later on, we will differentiate each of these clinical conditions to understand more clearly. Meanwhile, HIV associated neurocognitive disorders involve cognitive and associated functioning impairment. They are part of neuroAIDS.
NeuroAIDS are collective complications affecting various regions of the brain. The symptoms could include cognitive, behavioral, affective, motor, and psychiatric disorders. Meanwhile, the risk factors are not specific for those undergoing antiretroviral therapy and with viral load.
Symptoms of HIV Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND)
HAND has a previous term of AIDS Dementia Complex and involves neurological disorders that differ in severity. Additionally, the symptoms can vary from one person to another. We have indicated the broad categories of signs for the associated disorder.
- concentration issues
- memory loss
- a generalized mental slowness
- poor coordination
- leg weakness
- balance issues
- loss of grip to things
- handwriting issues
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- changes in personality
- mood swings
- impaired and impulsive judgment
- psychosis, such as hallucinations or paranoia
With HIV associated disorder, a person is most likely to show cognitive issues, but not always. Meanwhile, motor and behavioral symptoms often occur when HAND is already at the progressing stages.
Human immunodeficiency virus associated disorders have no cure. The primary treatment to undergo is antiretroviral therapy. This therapy allows the suppression of viral load in the blood. This treatment involves combining daily medications to stop virus reproduction.
This therapy hinders the progression of HIV to AIDS. Moreover, it also contributes to the reduction of the risk of HIV transmission. An effective application of this treatment results in undetectable viral load. HIV is still there, but it’s no longer visible in test results.
Additionally, it would be best for HIV infected patients to take their medications according to prescription. Otherwise, viral resistance can develop, leading to a need for a new antiretroviral therapy regimen.
HAND and the Central Nervous System
HIV associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) affects the central nervous system (CNS). Correspondingly, CNS is the controller of the primary functions of the body and mind. It consists of the brain and our spinal cord. Furthermore, it controls our thoughts, movements, emotions, and desires.
In this case, let us break down the three levels of cognitive impairment relative to HIV affecting the CNS.
- Asymptomatic Neurocognitive Impairment (ANI): It is the mild form of HAND. It involves impaired performance on neuropsychological tests, but individuals can remain independent.
- Mild Neurocognitive Disorder (MND): It is the most common category of HAND. As a result, it mildly affects a person’s everyday function.
- HIV Associated Dementia (HAD): HIV dementia is the most severe form of HAND. During this stage, the infected person will completely lose their ability to perform tasks independently.
Immunodeficiency virus infection is not a condition anyone can neglect. As much as possible, it would be best to seek medical help if you suspect any exposure to this virus. This way, you can receive treatment immediately and stop the virus from continuously reproducing.
An HIV positive person must not fear receiving treatment. This way, HIV patients can still live their life regardless of being infected. But then again, it involves proper treatment and cautiousness. It is necessary to follow healthcare providers’ instructions to ensure that the virus cannot transmit to other persons.
An HIV infected must know what to do to protect their loved ones and the people surrounding them. HIV, AIDS, or HAND, any of these can infect other people as well. For this reason, living with HIV should take medications appropriately.
Furthermore, they should learn how to improve their health condition and make it their top priority. Living with HIV is not the end of the world. There’s still hope to achieve the best of what life has to offer.
A Healthcare Provider’s Guide to HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND): A Healthcare Provider’s Guide to HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND): Diagnosis, pharmacologic management, non-pharmacologic management, and other considerations, Ucsf.edu. Accessed July 21, 2021, https://memory.ucsf.edu/sites/memory.ucsf.edu/files/wysiwyg/UCSF_HIV%20Dementia_Providers_11-6-17.pdf
HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND), Caregiver.org, Accessed July 21, 2021, https://www.caregiver.org/resource/hiv-associated-neurocognitive-disorder-hand/