Dr. Ghourm's Forum!
AIDS Dementia Complex is one of the frequent and serious neurological complications of HIV. It is characterized by cognitive dysfunction (trouble with concentration, memory, and attention), declining motor performance (strength, dexterity, coordination), and behavioral changes. It occurs primarily in more advanced HIV infections when the CD4 cell counts are relatively low. While the progression of dysfunction is variable, it is regarded as a serious complication historically predicting death in less than one year. Diagnosis is made by neurologists who carefully rule out alternative diagnoses. This routinely requires a careful neurological examination, brain scan (MRI or CT), and a lumbar puncture to evaluate the cerebrospinal fluid. No single test is available to confirm the diagnosis, but the constellation of history, laboratory findings, and examination reliably establishes the diagnosis when performed by experienced clinicians.
The cause of ADC is not fully known at present. Presence of the HIV virus is required, and there is good evidence that successful antiretroviral therapy, if started early enough, can induce a degree of improvement in neurologic performance. Evidence that antiviral therapy prevents ADC is incomplete and in some cases contradictory. However, most investigators recommend at a minimum that aggressive antiretroviral therapy with maximally CNS penetrating drugs be used when this diagnosis is likely. Since the amount of virus in the brain does not correlate well with the degree of dementia, most investigators believe that secondary mechanisms are also important in the manifestation of ADC.
It is my pleasure to spotlight a wonderful organization called the Alzheimer's Association. The mission of the Greater Georgia Alzheimer's Association is to provide specialized programs and services that will help people with Alzheimer's disease and those who care for them better cope with the day-to-day challenges of the disease. The mission is carried out through the dedicated efforts of the chapter's board, staff and volunteers, and through the generous support of thousands of community members who open their hearts each year to support the chapter with financial contributions. The greater Georgia Chapter stands by people with Alzheimer's disease and those who care for them with a wide range of programs and services.
In their 94-county territory, approximately 130,000 individuals are diagnosed with this disease. For every person diagnosed with Alzheimer's or another dementia, from two to five other family members or friends are affected as well. Although 96% of these individuals say caregiving is a "labor of love," more than anything they would like someone to share the burden of caregiving from time to time.
That's why the Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association is here -- to lighten the burden of caregiving through personalized support, education and training, advocacy, and contributions to research for the prevention, cure, and treatment of this disease.
The Greater Georgia Alzheimer's Association has a great program called Safe Return. Safe Return is a nationwide identification system established to assist in the safe and timely return of individuals with Alzheimer's, or a related dementia, who wander and become lost. Safe Return provides assistance whether a person becomes lost locally or far from home. A specially trained Safe Return staff person is available 24 hours a day at 800-572-1122 for assistance whenever a person is lost or found. Identification jewelry is sent for the person with memory loss to wear. When the person with loss wanders and is found wearing the identification jewelry, the person who finds the lost person calls the 1-800 number, and the person is safely returned to their caregiver. Registration is free to anyone living within the state of Georgia. Free registration is for a limited time only, and only for the first 500 registrants. The free registration is only available when the registration form is returned directly to the Greater Georgia Chapter office. Caregivers are also eligible to register for "Caregiver Jewelry" free of charge.
Find a recent photo and write your loved one's name on the back. Return completed registration form and photo to:
Greater Georgia Chapter
The Safe Return jewelry should arrive at your home within approximately two to four weeks. For more information, and/or to obtain a Safe Return registration form, please contact the Greater Georgia Chapter at 404-728-1181, toll-free outside the metro Atlanta area at 888-649-7800, or e-mail them at email@example.com.
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This article was provided by AIDS Survival Project. It is a part of the publication Survival News.