Antiretroviral therapy improves cognitive impairment in HIV individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa
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Abstract—Background: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can improve cognitive performance in some patients with HIV-associated cognitive impairment in the United States. The effect of HAART on HIV dementia in sub-Saharan Africa is largely unknown. Objective: To evaluate neuropsychological test and functional performance in HIV individuals after 3 and 6 months of HAART in Uganda. Methods: Twenty-three HIV individuals receiving HAART also received a detailed clinical history, neuropsychological testing, and a functional assessment. Follow-up evaluations were performed at 3 and 6 months after baseline. Longitudinal changes in the HIV dementia stage, the mean Z score for each neuropsychological test, and the Karnofsky Functional Performance Scale were evaluated at 3 and 6 months. Results: The mean (SD) CD4 cell count improved from 71 (15) at baseline to 161 (30) at 3 months (p 0.005) and 222 (46) at 6 months (p 0.001). Improvements were found in the Memorial Sloan Kettering HIV dementia stage and in tests of verbal memory, psychomotor speed, and executive functioning after 3 and 6 months of HAART (p 0.001 at 6 months for each neuropsychological test). There was also improvement in the Karnofsky Functional Performance Scale at both 3 and 6 months after the initiation of HAART (p 0.001). Conclusion: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can be associated with improvement in neurocognitive and functional performance in HIV individuals in sub-Saharan Africa. These results suggest that HAART, if available in areas with limited resources in sub-Saharan Africa, should be provided for patients with HIV-associated cognitive impairment.