Cognition in high-functioning HIV-infected males
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Background HIV is a well-known infection, affecting thousands of people on a daily basis. About 25.000 people are infected in The Netherlands, and it is most commonly spread through male-to-male intercourse. As HIV has been turned from a potential deadly disease into a chronic, manageable one, people with HIV tend to become older, facing an aging process burdened by the HIV infection. Several studies have been conducted on cognition in HIV-infected individuals, however, participants in this study were all fully participating in society, succeeded a professional education and had mentally demanding jobs. Cognition in a sample with these characteristics has never been studied before. We therefore intent to explore cognition in this high-functioning subgroup of the HIV-infected population, searching for a possible distinct cognitive profile. Methods 29 HIV-infected males performed extensive neuropsychogical testing to examine their cognition. Domains tested were Executive functioning, Attention/Working memory, Learning/Memory and Speed. Participants were divided into an impaired or unimpaired group, in case of a single test score 2 SD’s below average. Clinical and demographic characteristics were compared between the impaired and unimpaired group. Results In the impaired group, the domain Speed was most impaired. Clinical and demographic characteristics were compared between the impaired and unimpaired group. There were no significant differences in age, years of education, duration of illness or CD4 nadir between the impaired and unimpaired group. Conclusion When cognitive impairment was present, the domain Speed was most affected in this sample of high-functioning HIV-infected, virologically suppressed males. It remains unclear whether the present cognitive profile is due to HIV-associated acceleration of aging of the brain, or the influence of the relatively large amount of cognitive reserve of the participants. Further research is needed to study for the continuation of this distinct cognitive profile in this high-functioning subgroup of the HIV-infected population.