, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 110-119,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 30 Nov 2010

Successful cognitive aging in persons living with HIV infection

Abstract

The number of older adults living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is growing and this subpopulation of the epidemic is at heightened risk for a variety of poor health outcomes including HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. The current study sought to examine the factors associated with freedom from neurocognitive impairment in older HIV-infected adults. Participants included 74 middle-aged and older (mean age 51 years), HIV-infected individuals with a mean estimated duration of infection of 17 years who underwent comprehensive neuropsychological, psychiatric, and medical evaluations. Successful cognitive aging (SCA) was operationally defined as the absence of neurocognitive deficits as determined by a battery of well-validated cognitive tests and self-endorsed cognitive complaints. Thirty-two percent of the cohort met these criteria. Compared to the group that did not meet these criteria, successful cognitive agers had significantly lower lifetime rates of major depressive disorder and current affective distress (e.g., depression, anxiety). Moreover, the SCA group evidenced better everyday functioning outcomes, including medication adherence, lower self-reported rates of declines in activities of daily living, and superior abilities related to medication management and dealing with healthcare providers. SCA was not related to demographic composition, HIV disease or treatment factors, medical comorbidities, or histories of substance use disorders. Findings from this preliminary study suggest that approximately one-third of older persons with HIV were free of cognitive impairments, which is associated with more favorable emotional, psychosocial, and everyday functioning.