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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Jan 19, 2006

Dear Doctors, My brother is diagnosed with Aids,He has Dementia.What I need to know,is what exactly is dementia.Do the patients see things that aren't there,Do they imagine people.I have watched him change over the past year,I feel that the medications are doing some of this,When I mention this to his care givers,The response is,It's the desease progressing.He is on Hiv drugs.He resides in a nursing home,and is also cared for by hospice.It is very hard to understand .I want to help him,But I am not educated enough .So please explain what Dementia is.Thank You, V.B.

Response from Dr. Henry

HIV is a neurotrophic virus meaning that it hones in to the brain and other nerves. In the days before treatment a high percentage of AIDS patients developed dementia (loss of memory, confused thinking, often trouble walking and going to the bathroom ). HIV therapy dramatically decreased the rate that patients developed dementia. Patients still develop dementia despite therapy often in the setting of resistant virus (drugs not working as well) and a falling CD4 count. The HIV drugs themselves have not been linked to directly causing dementia though certain drugs (particularly efavirenz) can cause some confused thinking. KH

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