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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Damage to central nervous system
Jul 31, 2000

Hey Docs, thanks for this great service! I've read that 40-50% of all HIV+ persons will suffer from damages to the central nervous system. What kind of damages are we talking about? Will you be able to feel them or can they be "hidden"?

Response from Dr. Boyle

Damage to the central nervous system can occur in many forms and may result from HIV itself, other viral infections (for example, CMV or JC virus), various infections due to bacteria/parasites/fungi, cancers, metabolic/electrolyte disorders, drugs, etc. The list of potential CNS complications in HIV patients is lengthy and the problems associated with those complications varies from patient to patient. Some of these conditions cause very little long-term loss of function, especially if caught early, while others can cause progressive dementia and significant loss of function, which may not be reversible even with treatment. The good news is that the number you mention for CNS complications is relatively high and probably is based on pre-HAART data. We have seen a significant reversal in our clinic (which has over 2,000 patients) and very few of our patients have CNS problems at this point, especially if they're adherent to their HAART regimen. Brian Boyle, M.D., J.D.

Beginning HAART: What to expect?

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