Gender effect of HIV on Neuropsychological functioning
Introduction It has been established that HIV enters the central nervous system (CNS) early after infection and eventually results in both structural and functional brain changes in about 30–50% of cases (Shaw et al. 1985). Even in their milder forms these changes may have significant effects on day-to-day functioning (Antinori et al. 2007).
Objective This study examines neuropsychological differences, especially gender difference, between HIV seropostive (HIV+) patients being followed in a University of Zambia clinic and demographically comparable seronegative (HIV-) controls recruited in the same setting.
Materials and Methods 38 HIV+ subjects on antiviral treatment and 42 HIV- participants with similar age education and gender. They were all administered a standardised neurocognitive test battery that has been found sensitive to HIV Associated Neurocognitive Disorder (HAND) in the USA and internationally (e.g., in China, India, Romania and Cameroon).
Results The test battery was found to be applicable to a Zambian population. A clear HIV effect was seen with a medium to high overall effect size (Cohen’s d = 0.74). However, it was only the female seropostive group who showed this effect of HIV.
Conclusion HIV can result in neuropsychological deficits in Zambia, where the clade C of the virus dominates. It is suggested that the HIV infected women are more at risk for developing cognitive deficits than men, possibly because of gender related social, financial and healthcare disadvantages.
- Neuropsychological functioning
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