Alzheimer’s Diagnosed for a First Time in a HIV-Positive Person, Georgetown Researchers Report

Alzheimer’s Diagnosed for a First Time in a HIV-Positive Person, Georgetown Researchers Report
Georgetown University researchers reported what is thought to be the first confirmed case of Alzheimer’s disease in a HIV-positive patient, a 71-year-old man with amyloid deposits in the brain detected by a scan. The case report highlights the importance of further study into HIV-related neurological decline, and raises the possibilty that Alzheimer's exists in other HIV-positive people but has been misdiagnosed. The study, “An individual with human immunodeficiency virus, dementia, and central nervous system amyloid deposition,” was published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring. Improved HIV treatments have led to better prognosis for these patients and longer lives. As the number of aging HIV-positive patients rises, diagnoses of dementia and other neurological impairments are likely to follow. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) is found in 30 percent to 50 percent of patients with a long-term HIV infection, and its symptoms are similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the treatment for both conditions differs. HAND patients are treated with anti-retroviral drugs that have a better chance of penetrating the brain, while Alzheimer’s patients have about a handful of approved medications to slow symptom worsening, like cholinesterase inhibitors. In the past, clinicians thought that HIV-positive individuals were unlikely to develop Alzheimer's, with HIV-related inflammation in the brain working to prevent the formation of amyloid plaques. Researchers, led by neurologist R. Scott Turner, di
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