The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a neurotropic virus that is associated with cognitive, behavioral and motor deficits known as HIV Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND). This was a prospective study aimed at determining the prevalence of cognitive impairment as well as comparing the performance of the HIV positive patients on a screening test, the International HIV Dementia Scale (IHDS), and subtests drawn from a neuropsychological test battery - WHO/UCLA. The screening test and neuropsychological test battery were administered to HIV positive patients while the HIV negative patients had only the test battery administered to determine the mean score of each test domain. Neurocognitive impairment was defined using the cut-off score of 10 for the International HIV Dementia scale and Z scores greater than 1 SD in at least two domains of the neuropsychological test battery. The mean performance on each domain of the test battery was determined after administration to the HIV negative individuals. Ninety-two HIV positive patients (57 females and 35 males) and ninety-two age, sex and education matched HIV negative subjects (46 females and 46 males) were enrolled into the study. The median age and interquartile range were 33(26-39) and 35(27-46) for the HIV positive and negative participants respectively. The prevalence estimates of cognitive impairment determined by the IHDS and the test battery were 42.4 and 76.1%, respectively. The IHDS in this study was found to have a sensitivity of 50% and a specificity of 81% for HAND. Neurocognitive impairment still persists in the combination anti-retroviral therapy (CART) era and is better accessed using neuropsychological testing than with screening tests although the former is cumbersome and require expertise and patience on the part of the subjects.
Key words: HIV, neurocognitive disorder, sub-Saharan Africa, dementia tests, neuropsychology.
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