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HIV & AIDS Health Center

HIV and AIDS Dementia

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Medical Treatment for AIDS Dementia

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which is effective in controlling HIV infection, also protects many HIV-positive people from developing AIDS dementia complex. In some cases, HAART can partially or completely reduce symptoms of ADC.

No specific treatment is available for cognitive decline in AIDS. Specific symptoms such as depression and behavioral disturbances are sometimes relieved by drug therapy.

  • Antidepressant drugs may improve symptoms of depression.
  • Antipsychotic drugs may help improve severe agitation or aggression, hallucinations, or delusions.

These "psychoactive" drugs are not appropriate for everyone. Your health care provider may consult a specialist in brain disorders (neurologist or psychiatrist) to determine the best treatment.

 

Next Steps for AIDS Dementia

If you have AIDS dementia complex, you should have regular and frequent visits with your health care provider. These visits allow repeat testing to monitor your condition, review of symptoms, and adjustments to treatment if needed. The visits also permit the health care provider to assess whether your care is appropriate.

Persons with advanced dementia may require inpatient care in a nursing home or similar facility.

Prevention of AIDS Dementia

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can delay or prevent development of AIDS dementia complex in some people with HIV infection, especially if it is given early in the course of the disease. There is no other known way of preventing ADC.

Outlook for AIDS Dementia

Despite the widespread use of HAART, some people with HIV infection continue to develop AIDS dementia complex. Others do not tolerate HAART. For these people, the outlook is often poor. For many, the dementia worsens over a period of months until the person is no longer able to care for himself. He or she becomes bedridden, unable to communicate, and dependent on others for care.

Support Groups and Counseling

AIDS dementia complex can be one of the most difficult of all HIV/AIDS complications for you and those who care for you. The condition affects every aspect of your life, including family relationships, work, financial status, social life, and physical and mental health. You may feel overwhelmed, depressed, frustrated, angry, or resentful.

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