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Cognitive and memory problems.
Oct 9, 2011

I was diagnosed HIV positive over 24 years ago while I was at university. I was unable to complete my studies there because of concentration and memory problems. I was once academically sound but then drifted and started smoking marijuana and cigarettes. I stopped marijuana 12 years ago and cigarettes 5 years ago. I am unable to work because of recent memory problems and often get confused about dealing with daily issues. I basically now live a healthy life. I have been on Kaletra, Truvada, Zoloft, olanzapine and sodium valporate. I don't miss taking my medications. My viral load has been undetectable for over two years and my CD 4 count is satisfactory according to my doctor. I have lost a lot of weight although I eat healthy food and I also do daily short walking exercises.

How can I improve my memory and reduce cognitive problems? Am I fooling myself by thinking I am still capable of enrolling and completing a university program with my mental state and the combination of drugs I am taking?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Congratulations on working hard to remain healthy. Marijuana can have an effect on memory so giving that up so many years ago can only help. A combination of drugs such as those you take can cause some memory problems, but it sounds like this has been a long-term issue. I noted that some of your medications can be prescribed for serious mental concerns such as bipolar disorder, so I don't know if there are other co-occurring disorders. I think it would be best to speak with your physician and discuss the possibility of a neuropsychiatric workup. That involves extensive testing (it can be expensive) to determine exactly what is going on. Those results, in consultation with your healthcare providers, could help you better determine how you could improve your memory and the possibility of reenrolling in a university.

Good luck!

David



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