HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are neurological disorders associated with HIV infection and AIDS.
They may include neurological disorders of various severity such as
- AIDS dementia complex (ADC) also known as HIV dementia and HIV-associated dementia (HAD) and
- HIV encephalopathy.
HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders are associated with a metabolic encephalopathy induced by HIV infection and fueled by immune activation of macrophages and microglia. These cells are actively infected with HIV and secrete neurotoxins of both host and viral origin.
The essential features of ADC are disabling cognitive impairment accompanied by motor dysfunction, speech problems and behavioral change. Cognitive impairment is characterised by mental slowness, trouble with memory and poor concentration. Motor symptoms include a loss of fine motor control leading to clumsiness, poor balance and tremors. Behavioral changes may include apathy, lethargy and diminished emotional responses and spontaneity. Histopathologically, it is identified by the infiltration of monocytes and macrophages into the central nervous system (CNS), gliosis, pallor of myelin sheaths, abnormalities of dendritic processes and neuronal loss.