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

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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