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The Johns Hopkins NIMH Center for Novel Therapeutics for HIV-associated Cognitive Disorders

In the News: Justin McArthur, M.B.B.S., M.P.H. among Six Johns Hopkins Doctors Elected to the Association of American Physicians
The Association of American Physicians is a nonprofit, professional organization whose goals include the pursuit of medical knowledge, and the advancement through experimentation and discovery of basic and clinical science and their application to clinical medicine. Read more.

The Johns Hopkins NIMH Center comprises an interdisciplinary research team who has pooled their talents to study the nature of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). Their aim is to translate discoveries of the pathophysiological mechanisms into novel therapeutics for HAND.

The development of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) represents an important treatment issue for HIV patients, affecting not only quality of life, and everyday functioning, but also limiting viral suppression strategies. Worldwide, HAND remains a common cause of cognitive impairment, and as combined antiretroviral therapy (CART) becomes more widely distributed in resource-limited settings, and improves survival, the long-term impact of HAND will become even more significant.


What are the symptoms of HAND?

  • Confusion, disorientation
  • Forgetfulness, inattention
  • Behavior changes: language, problem solving, decision-making
  • Headaches
  • Gradual weakening & loss of feeling in arms and/or legs
  • Pain due to nerve damage

Types of HAND:

  1. Asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment (ANI): cognitive function impaired, but does not affect quality of life and everyday functioning
  2. Mild neurocognitive disorder (MND): cognitive function is impaired, and there is mild interference with everyday functioning
  3. HIV-associated dementia (HAD): marked cognitive impairment leading to behavioral changes related to difficulty with learning or processing new information, attention & concentration impairments, and decision-making, resulting in significant inability to function daily in the home, work, or social situations.  
Comorbidities associated with HAND (presence of one or more additional disorders):
  • Age-related cognitive deficits
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Co-infection: HCV, HIV 2, HTLV1
  • Nutritional and vitamin deficiencies
  • Accelerated atherosclerosis
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Sleep apnea, disturbed sleep
  • Psychiatric illness: anxiety disorders, major depression, bipolar disease

Living a Fuller Life with HIV | Dr. Justin McArthur

Patients living with HIV often experience impairments in memory, attention, and decision making. Dr. McArthur’s team works to develop treatments that would allow those with HIV to live a fuller life.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Novel Therapeutics for HIV-associated Cognitive Disorders is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH Grant P30MH075673

Learn more about the NIMH: National Institute of Mental Health

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To learn more about the Johns Hopkins NIMH Center, please call 443-287-0571.
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