, Volume 8, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 18-26,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 19 Jan 2011

Neurocognitive Effects of the Hepatitis C Virus

Evidence is increasing that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is neurovirulent. Neuroimaging studies suggest that individuals with HCV infection show alterations in the structure and function of several neural systems, most notably the frontostriatal circuits. Several studies also demonstrated evidence of cognitive impairment across a variety of ability areas in about 30% to 40% of HCV-infected individuals. Although certain comorbidities (eg, substance abuse, HIV coinfection, neuropsychiatric symptoms) may increase the risk of neurocognitive deficits in HCV-positive individuals, it appears that neurocognitive impairment is present in HCV-positive individuals without significant comorbidities. We provide an overview of the neurocognitive effects of HCV infection and present empirical evidence examining episodic memory abilities in HCV-positive individuals. The results of our study indicate that HCV-positive individuals have difficulties learning new verbal and visual information, but are nevertheless able to retain and recognize the information they have learned. Implications for everyday functioning are discussed.