Nov 10, 2005
I have a question on how the HIV virus affects the brain. I know a parson who has 26yrs AIDS positive and has demtia. how is demtia offset by HIV? I know that
HIV is in your blood and therefor it is everywere, but wouldnt it actulay have to nfect brain cells to set off mental problems?
P.S. I am very well educated with HIV and AIDS please explain this in medical terms.
Response from Dr. Horwath
Yes, HIV is found in the blood, mainly in T cells. It also infects other types of cells called macrophages. These cells can enter the central nervous system and the infection can spread to other cells in the brain and spinal chord. The brain is composed of a variety of different types of cells. It is known that HIV infects cells known as glia and astrocytes. Thus far, there is no evidence that HIV infects neurons or nerve cells.
By infecting glial cells in the brain, the virus sets off an inflammatory response in the brain. The exact cause of the dementia is not known, but it is believed that the damage to the central nervous system is a result of this inflammatory reaction.
On the positive side, effective antiretroviral treatment can reverse the signs and symptoms of HIV-associated dementia. I have seen people with fairly advanced HIV-associated dementia improve dramatically in response to HAART.
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