Mild cognitive impairment among people with HIV is linked with various elements, including cannabis use, depression, metabolic factors, and an individual’s lowest-ever CD4 count, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers recruited 103 HIV-positive male members of the Dutch AGEhIV study between 2011 and 2013 and matched them with 74 HIV-negative controls.

The HIV-positive participants were all on HIV treatment with a fully suppressed viral load for at least a year. Individuals were excluded from the study if they had experienced a serious neurological disease, had ongoing psychiatric disorders, were currently injecting drugs, took recreational drugs daily (except for cannabis), had suffered a traumatic brain injury, or had a current or past HIV-related neurological disease.

While the two sets of participants were well matched, the HIV-positive group had a higher rate of smoking, a lower body mass index and a higher waist-to-hip ratio than the HIV-negative group.

A comprehensive series of tests found that 17 percent of the men in the HIV-positive group had mild cognitive impairment, compared with 5 percent of the HIV-negative men.

The researchers found that factors linked with cognitive impairment among the HIV-positive men included a history of cardiovascular disease (this finding was only of borderline statistical significance, meaning the link could have occurred by chance), impaired kidney function (this was also of borderline significance), a higher than normal waist-to-hip ratio, having depressive symptoms, and a low lowest-ever CD4 count. A more advanced analysis showed that cannabis use, impaired kidney function, diabetes, and a history of cardiovascular disease were all independently associated with cognitive impairment.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.