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HIV related neuro-psychiatric impairment
Jul 6, 1998

After reading a question posted about forgetfulness and confusion, which you say could possibly be "HIV related neuro-psychiatric impairment", I'm curious about a similar problem. My symptoms have been more along the lines of lack of concentration, and I really do not think it is due to depression. This lack of concentration has been very inconvenient at work because I have to be able to handle many tasks at once and used to be able to manage many projects at one time. My boss will brief me in the mornings on what is top priority for her, but it seems to go in one ear and out the other when I thought everything was crystal clear the first time around. Also, I get very upset with myself because I tend to be clumsy and very accident prone...where I used to take pride in "being on top of things" and very much aware of my surroundings. I've even run red lights or stopped at stop-signs waiting minutes for something to signal me to proceed until I realize what a jerk I am. Am I going nuts, or is it possible these symptoms can be attributed to what you call "HIV related neuro-psychiatric impairment"? Do you suggest that I see a psychiatrist first? I can't say that I really had "something" on my mind during these incidents. I just feel really stupid...especially when I put a CD in the stereo, and after twenty minutes of silence remember what I did, and realize I never pushed the play button.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

What you are describing can very definitely be symptoms of HIV related neuro-psychiatric impairment. The only way to know for certain is to ask your primary care physician for a referral to a neuro-psychologist or neurologist who is a specialist in diagnosing HIV related disorders. Every large hospital has these specialists on faculty. Certain drugs can be helpful in alleviating some of the symptoms. But for your own peace of mind, please do call your doctor immediately and tell him or her what has been going on and ask for a referral to an appropriate specialist. I am glad that reading one of the previous questions and my response has alerted you to the possibility that you may be suffering from this condition. Good luck, and call for the referral today.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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