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AIDS Dementia Complex


Treating AIDS Dementia Complex

HAART is the most effective approach to treating ADC, although prognosis is uncertain. HAART may improve mental function if you already have ADC. It may also prevent or delay the onset of ADC. The goal with treatment is to aggressively decrease HIV below a level where it can be detected. This is often done with a combination of three different medications. Because of symptoms of dementia, you may need help remembering to take your medication.

If possible, your doctor may prescribe HIV medications that can directly reach your brain. This is called crossing the blood-brain barrier. Retrovir (zidovudine or AZT) is an example of a drug that can do this.

If high-dose AZT causes problems, you may need to try several of the other treatment options available.

Some of these drugs can interact with one another and cause side effects, so your doctor may need to make adjustments. These are some of the more common side effects from these medications. Each one does not cause all of these side effects:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever, chills, and sore throat
  • Sleep problems
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Headache
  • Skin changes
  • Burning or prickling sensations in legs and arms
  • Joint or muscle pain

In addition to HAART, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat symptoms of ADC only. These may include antipsychotics, antidepressants, or psychostimulants. These are examples:

  • Haldol (haloperidol) to ease general symptoms of ADC.
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate) to ease symptoms of apathy, lack of energy, concentration, and appetite.
  • Thorazine (chlorpromazine) and Mellaril (thioridazine) to control agitation.
  • Ativan (lorazepam) and Valium (diazepam) to control anxiety.



WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 13, 2012
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