Definition

AIDS dementia complex (ADC) is a loss in mental skills in people with late-stage AIDS. It can affect thinking, reasoning, learning, understanding, and moving. This causes problems with day-to-day tasks.

Immune System
Immune system white blood cell
HIV destroys white blood cells vital to the immune system.
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Causes

ADC is caused by the HIV infection spreading to the brain.

Risk Factors

The risk is higher in people with HIV infection who do not get treated. It is also higher in people with late-stage AIDS.

Symptoms

Problems start slowly and get worse over time. They may be:

  • Problems with focus
  • Forgetfulness
  • Slowed thinking
  • Irritability
  • Problems walking
  • Weak muscles
  • Problems speaking
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Personality changes

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Mental health and neurological exams may be done.

Your blood may be tested. A lumbar puncture may be done to test the fluid around your brain and spinal cord.

Images may be taken. This can be done with:

Treatment

AIDS cannot be cured. Symptoms may be managed with:

Medicine

Antiretroviral drugs are used to lower the amount of the virus in the body. More than one may be used.

Other medicines may also be used to manage problems. These may be:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Stimulants

Prevention

ADC cannot be prevented in a person who has HIV.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019 -
  • Update Date: 10/16/2019 -