Brain diseases persist. (Treatment News).
A review of autopsy reports from HIV-infected patients showed that
cases of HIV encephalopathy, a brain disease that can cause structural
alterations, are increasing. The study, published in the Journal of
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (31:2, p. 171, 2002) describes data
collected from HIV-infected patients who died between 1985 and 1999.
Opportunistic infections of the brain, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV),
toxoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, and lymphoma have decreased over time.
Cases of severe forms of HIV encephalopathy have also decreased, but the
incidence of mild and moderate forms of the disease has increased,
especially after the introduction of combination anti-HIV therapy (also
called "HAART")in 1996. Patients on HAART are living longer,
which may give HIV more of an opportunity to cause problems in the
brain. Researchers speculate that HAART may lessen the severity of
HIV-related brain diseases by decreasing a patient's viral load.
Unfortunately, these agents probably have a limited effect on fully
preventing the damage.