The current screening tools used to detect neurocognitive impairment among people with HIV often let milder cases fall through the cracks. Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers conducted a literature review of 31 previously published studies to determine how successfully the common diagnostic tools could uncover less severe cases of impairment.

Before the era of antiretrovirals that began in the mid-1990s, severe cognitive impairment was widespread among the HIV population. Today milder cases are more the norm, and as many as half or more of people with HIV experience some form of impairment.

The researchers found that the two most popular tests, the HIV Dementia Scale and the International HIV Dementia Scale, could recognize severe neurocognitive impairment but fell short when it came to detecting more mild cases. The researchers found they could not recommend any of the available diagnostics for milder cases of neurocognitive impairment.

“With the prevalence of milder forms of [HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, or HAND] increasing, and limited resources available for formal neuropsychological examinations, there is a critical need to be able to screen and identify people with HAND,” Sean B. Rourke, PhD, a neuropsychologist who heads the Neurobehavioral Research Unit at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and who is one of the study’s authors, said in a release. “Improved screening tools could go a long way in improving the care, quality of life and study of treatment interventions of individuals living with HIV and AIDS.”

To read a release on the study, click here.

To read the study, click here.