What are the neurologic complications in HIV infection?

Updated: Apr 12, 2018
  • Author: Regina Krel, MD; Chief Editor: Niranjan N Singh, MBBS, MD, DM, FAHS, FAANEM  more...
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Based on current World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, there are more than 36 million people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) today. More than 19 million of them receive antiretroviral therapy (ART). [18]  Despite the increased life longevity of patients infected with HIV, neurologic complications remain common. Infection with HIV can affect both the peripheral and central nervous systems (CNS) in their entirety as well as muscles. With the advancement and greater availability of ART, CNS complications due to opportunistic infections as a result of severe immunocompromise have decreased. However, manifestations of neurologic dysfunction not caused by opportunistic infections (primary manifestations) are still prevalent. [19, 20]  

Complications of the nervous system can occur in more than 40% of patients with HIV. Aseptic meningitis and acute demyelinating polyneuropathy (AIDP) can be the presenting symptoms of acute HIV infection. Aseptic meningitis can be seen in as many as 25% of patients and can occur within 10–20 days of systemic infection. In 10–20% of cases, neurologic manifestations are the presenting signs/symptoms of AIDS. At autopsy, the prevalence of neuropathologic abnormalities is 80%. [1, 2, 3, 4, 21]

Types of Neurologic Complications

As mentioned above, neurologic complications that are associated with HIV infection include those caused directly by the virus and others caused through indirect mechanisms.

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