, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 536-549

Neurobehavioral effects of human immunodeficiency virus infection among former plasma donors in rural China

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The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in China has expanded rapidly in recent years, but little is known about the prevalence and features of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs) in this part of the world. We administered a comprehensive Western neuropsychological (NP) test battery to 203 HIV+ and 198 HIV − former plasma donors in the rural area of Anhui province. They found that 26% of the HIV − samples, and 46% of the HIV+ samples, were infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), which can also have central nervous system (CNS) effects. To classify NP impairment, we developed demographically corrected test norms based upon individuals free of both infections (N=141). Using a global summary score, NP impairment was found in 34.2% of the HIV-monoinfected group and 39.7% of the coinfected group, as compared to 12.7% of the uninfected controls (P <.001). HIV+ participants with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were more likely to be impaired (43%) than non-AIDS individuals (29%; P <.05). Lastly, when all infection groups were combined, participants with NP impairment reported more cognitive complaints (P <.01) and increased dependence in everyday functioning (P=.01). In sum, NP impairment in this large rural Chinese sample was associated with both HIV and HCV infections, and the impairment’s prevalence, severity, and pattern were similar to those reported by Western studies. Clinical significance of NP impairment in this population is suggested by the participants’ reports of reduced everyday functioning. These findings indicate that HAND is likely to be an important feature of HIV infection in developing countries, underscoring the need for international efforts to develop CNS-relevant treatments.

The San Diego HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center (HNRC) group is affiliated with the University of California, San Diego, the Naval Hospital, San Diego, and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, and includes Director: Igor Grant, MD; Co-Directors: J. Hampton Atkinson, MD, Ronald J. Ellis, MD, PhD, and J. Allen McCutchan, MD; Center Manager: Thomas D. Marcotte, PhD; Naval Hospital San Diego: Braden R. Hale, MD, MPH (P.I.); Neuromedical Component: Ronald J. Ellis, MD, PhD (P.I.), J. Allen McCutchan, MD, Scott Letendre, MD, Edmund Capparelli, PharmD, Rachel Schrier, PhD; Neurobehavioral Component: Robert K. Heaton, PhD (P.I.), Mariana Cherner, PhD, Steven Paul Woods, PsyD; Neuroimaging Component: Terry Jernigan, PhD (P.I.), Christine Fennema-Notestine, PhD, Sarah L., Archibald, MA, John Hesselink, MD, Jacopo Annese, PhD, Michael J. Taylor, PhD, Neurobiology Component: Eliezer Masliah, MD (P.I.), Ian Everall, FRCPsych, FRCPath, PhD, Cristian Achim, MD, PhD.; Neurovirology Component: Douglas Richman, MD, (P.I.), David M. Smith, MD; International Component: J. Allen McCutchan, MD, (P.I.); Developmental Component: Ian Everall, FRCPsych, FRCPath, PhD (P.I.), Stuart Lipton, MD, PhD; Clinical Trials Component: J. Allen McCutchan, MD, J. Hampton Atkinson, MD, Ronald J. Ellis, MD, PhD, Scott Letendre, MD; Participant Accrual and Retention Unit: J. Hampton Atkinson, MD (P.I.), Rodney von Jaeger, M.P.H.; Data Management Unit: Anthony C. Gamst, PhD (P.I.), Clint Cushman, BA, (Data Systems Manager), Daniel R. Masys, MD (Senior Consultant); Statistics Unit: Ian Abramson, PhD (P.I.), Christopher Ake, PhD, Florin Vaida, PhD.
This study was supported by the NIMH grant 5 R01 MH073433-04 (Dr. Heaton, P.I.). The HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center (HNRC) is supported by Center award MH 62512 from NIMH.