By and large, neurocognitive impairment among people with HIV seems not to be a result of HIV infection or antiretroviral therapy, but related to the same common factors associated with mental decline in the general population, aidsmap reports. According to a French study, the rates of such impairment are markedly elevated among HIV-positive people because many of the associative factors are more common among this group.

The study examined a cohort of 400 HIV-positive adults largely representative of the overall French HIV population. The researchers found a 59 percent level of cognitive impairment, the vast majority of which was asymptomatic or mild, although 7 percent of the total had HIV-associated dementia. After controlling for other factors, they found that conditions associated with cognitive impairment in the cohort included advanced age, low education level, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and a history of stroke or brain damage. The only HIV-related variable was a diagnosis of an AIDS-defining neurological disease. Believing their results are clinically significant, the study’s authors emphasized the need for health providers to screen HIV patients for anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study’s abstract, click here.