Impact of HIV and aging on neuropsychological function
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Cognitive efficiency decreases with age, and advancing age is the leading risk factor for most neurodegenerative disorders that result in dementia. In HIV infection, risk for cognitive impairment is consistently linked to advancing chronological age. As the HIV epidemic enters its fourth decade in the USA, extended life expectancy will likely result in an increased prevalence of cognitive disorders by virtue of these factors. However, it is less clear if HIV potentiates or accelerates the risk for cognitive impairment given that most reports are mixed or demonstrate only a small interaction effect. More critically, it is unclear if HIV will modulate the neuropathology associated with non-HIV cognitive disorders in a manner that will increase risk for diseases such as cerebrovascular and Alzheimer’s disease. In the coming years, with increasing numbers of HIV+ patients entering their 60s and 70s, background risk for neurodegenerative disorders will be sufficiently high as to inform this issue on clinical grounds. This review summarizes knowledge of cognition in HIV as it relates to age and presents some emerging controversies.