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U.S. News

University of Nebraska to Examine HIV and Aging, Brain Disorders

April 18, 2011

Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) will use a $9 million federal grant to study the early onset of brain disease among HIV patients.


Drs. Howard Fox and Susan Swindells are leading the research into the causes and potential treatments of brain disorders among people with HIV. By 2015, more than half of U.S. HIV patients will be age 50 or older, said Fox. MRI scans and other tools show HIV patients' brains age faster, causing an HIV-positive 50-year-old's brain to look and function like that of someone 10 or more years older, he explained.

According to Fox, HIV itself could cause the brain to age; the interaction of HIV-related medicines could trigger early aging; or the fact that patients' immune systems are under chronic stress could contribute to the brain's deterioration. "That's not a healthy situation to be in, and HIV promotes that," noted Swindells, director of the UNMC HIV Clinic. "We really are struggling with" understanding the reasons for early onset brain disease, she said.

Dr. Jeymohan Joseph of the National Institute of Mental Health agrees. With HIV patients living longer, "there is a critical need for research" into brain disorders in this population, he said.

Fox will seek out proteins and other indicators that may help doctors predict or test for brain disease among HIV patients. He said the outcome could lead to strategies for diagnosing and treating brain-related disorders in the aging population in general.

Back to other news for April 2011

Adapted from:
Omaha World-Herald
03.30.2011; Rick Ruggles

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Neurological Complications of AIDS Fact Sheet
More News and Research on Neurological and Neurocognitive Complications
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