Depression and diagnosis of neurocognitive impairment in HIV-positive patients


Braz J Med Biol Res




Neurocognitive impairment (NCI) is frequently observed in patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and results from the compromise of subcortical brain structures by the virus. The manifestations of NCI range from asymptomatic impairment to dementia. In addition to cognitive impairment resulting from HIV infection, other factors such as depression are associated with the loss of cognitive functions. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of NCI in HIV-positive patients in a city in southern Brazil and to establish possible associations for the prevalence of NCI with HIV-related and other risk factors. This cross-sectional study of HIV-positive outpatients was conducted in a specialized care service in the city of Pelotas in Southern Brazil. Sociodemographic data and HIV-related information were collected, and all patients underwent psychiatric and neurocognitive evaluations. The prevalence of NCI among the 392 patients was 54.1% when tracked using the IHDS (International HIV Dementia Scale) and 36.2% when the IHDS was associated with a battery of complementary tests. A bivariate analysis suggested an association of NCI with gender, age, educational level, depression, current CD4 count and lowest CD4 count. The association of NCI with depression remained in the Poisson regression (PR=1.96, 95%CI=1.12-3.42). The prevalence of cognitive impairment in HIV-positive patients estimated in this study is in accordance with international and Brazilian data. Of the factors analyzed, depression showed the greatest evidence of association with neurocognitive loss. Based on our findings, the inclusion of instruments to evaluate depression in our services for patients with HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is recommended.

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