When HIV hits the brain

People with HIV can develop a psychiatric or neurological problem for different reasons. Virus, drugs, the presence of other diseases or factors may be behind such problems.

Since the high efficiency antiretroviral drugs were developed in the late 90s, AIDS was disappearing from the landscape of developed countries but chronic infection, but not deadly for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) stays. Regular checks show that the level of HIV in the blood is high or controlled by medication. However, sometimes, a low viral load does not mean that the virus is absent from the brain, a place where it is usually hide, and where it can generate an alteration of its operation. Other patients suffer from psychiatric disorders unrelated to damage to the central nervous system but due to the impact of diagnosis or associated stigma that still remains in society.

The personal privacy or the perceived lack of social support in the medium or long term, can lead to chronic depression, very prevalent among people with HIV if they are compared with the general population. The same diagnosis can generate reactions of confusion, depression, anger and denial. The prevalence of psychiatric or neurological disease associated with HIV is very high but often overlooked and not taken into account.

The society does not help. There are still a lot of stigma with HIV and depression also in the case of HIV, it seems that you have searched and what people perceive depression as something of cowards. That still looks like a person who has depression seems is weak.

Since not only drug treatment is offered, and differential psychological care is one of its pillars, helping patients to live with HIV not a bad life. Psychological therapy is something demanded by patients to solve problems and develop strategies that will serve them for life to face different stressors. They prefer this because they are already highly medicated and adding drugs costing them.

Although depression is the most prevalent, behind this problem followed another disturbance generated in the brain virus. HIV causes an inflammatory reaction that can cause psychosis, depression, cognitive disorders, sleep problems, etc. On the other side, psychopathology associated with consumption, when it has been-drugs or toxic substances such as snuff or alcohol are also given. And finally, there are the side effects that may occur in some people by the ingestion of some antiretrovirals.

Find out the causes

The various psychopathological syndromes that can occur in patients with HIV range from adjustment disorders, mood (depression, mania), anxiety, personality (disorder paranoid, schizoid), psychotic (hallucinations, delusions), changes in physiological functions (sleep disorders, sexual) and neuropsychiatric manifestations.

Through the use of specific psychological tests and other tests doctors find out if the virus, treatment, psychiatric illness or other causes (hepatitis C coinfection, presence of diabetes or hypertension, etc.) can help your brain does not work properly in some ways.

Typical functions that may be affected in people with HIV with any of the above factors are the memory capacity, the organization, attention, fine motor skills, verbal fluency or the ability to process information. Within these dysfunctions are degrees. Sometimes the disturbance is so slight that neither the patient perceives, at other times may have consequence dysfunction which are smaller, and in some cases these effects can seriously interfere with the daily activities.

To properly address these problems it is important to have a specialist professional so you can make an informed decision and set a treatment that may involve changes in lifestyle, neuropsychological rehabilitation strategies or compensatory methods to meet somehow the impact of this deficit. Unfortunately not usually there are sufficient resources in all cities to implement this in the day.

The increasing complexity of antiretroviral treatment, its psychiatric side effects and interactions with psychotropic drugs require that the psychiatrist should be very informed about HIV and work very close to the infectious form. It is important that in places where there are psychiatrists is at least one trained in HIV, as it is a disease evolving needs to be someone trained.

Categories: HIV