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What is HAD?
Apr 18, 2004

My son was recently diagnosed with AIDS after being diagnosed HIV positive in 1983.His partner tells me that he also has AIDS related dementia. I have never heard of this? What causes the dementia and is there a treatment.His body is responding to therapy but his mind is not doing so well.

Response from Dr. Horwath

HIV-associated dementia (HAD)occurs in some people due to the direct effects of the virus on the brain. In early HAD, the affected person may appear "depresssed" with apathy, lethargy, and social withdrawal. Forgetfullness, loss of concentration, slowing of thinking along with uncoordination, gait disturbance, weakness and tremor may be present. Personality changes also occur, often noticed by family or friends rather than the patient.

The best treatment is effective antiretroviral therapy. There are studies that show that bringing the viral load down to undetectable is associated with improvement in cognitive functioning in people with AIDS. There is no guarantee of improvement, but I have seen many patients with fairly advanced dementia experience dramatic improvement in their cognitive abilities with medical treatment of central nervous system complications, good nutrition and hydration, and effective HAART.



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