Once again, Stephen Karpiak, PhD, has forwarded me the latest research commentary from ACRIA (AIDS Community Research Initiative of America). In a review of the literature, Karpiak finds that the data is “conflicting and inconclusive.” The panel of experts concludes: “The jury is out as to whether HIV alone is a significant factor contributing to cognitive dysfunction or dementia. There are likely many other factors, some of which might be controlled to prevent or ameliorate cognitive decline.”
I have met many midlife and older people with HIV who are worried about dementia. While many people living with HIV may evidence cognitive impairment on tests, few have the diagnosis of dementia. There are many variables that may effect mental functioning, including: depression, socioeconomic variables, drug toxicities, trauma, other illnesses, and diet. HIV alone may very well not cause dementia and there may be many other treatable c0-factors that influence cognitive functioning in people aging with HIV. As new research on this issue emerges we will, hopefully, get more clarity on the relationship (if any) between aging with HIV and mental functioning.