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Mental and Psychological Problems Affect Over 50% in U.S. HIV Group

March 2011

Slightly more than half of HIV-positive adults in a new nationwide US study have some form of neuropsychological (NP) impairment, which includes problems that affect the brain (like mental sharpness and memory) and the mood (like depression).1 People with a lowestever (nadir) CD4 count under 200 had a higher risk of NP impairment in this study, even if they were taking antiretroviral therapy.

The most severe form of NP impairment, HIV-associated dementia, has become rarer since the arrival of triple antiretroviral combinations. But other conditions involving the central nervous system (HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, or HAND) persist.2,3 To gain a better understanding of HAND in recent years, US researchers organized the CHARTER study at six university HIV clinics across the country. This report focuses on rates of NP impairment and risk factors for NP impairment in these people.


  1. Heaton RK, Clifford DB, Franklin DR Jr, et al. HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders persist in the era of potent antiretroviral therapy: CHARTER study. Neurology. 2010;75:2087-2096.
  2. Giancola ML, Lorenzini P, Balestra P, et al. Neuroactive antiretroviral drugs do not influence neurocognitive performance in less advanced HIV-infected patients responding to highly active antiretroviral therapy. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2006;41:332-337.
  3. Tozzi V, Balestra P, Bellagamba R, et al. Persistence of neuropsychologic deficits despite long-term highly active antiretroviral therapy in patients with HIV-related neurocognitive impairment: prevalence and risk factors. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2007;45:174-182.

This article was provided by The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy. It is a part of the publication HIV Treatment ALERTS!. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

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