Dementia: The New Enemy
By Signor, Roger
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
AIDS dementia has emerged as a deadly foe in the battle against AIDS. While drugs help AIDS patients live longer, they also give HIV more time to invade the brain. Experts estimate that in the United States there will be 10,000 to 20,000 new cases of AIDS dementia each year. The costs for each patient will be $40,000 to $80,000 a year. Dr. David B. Clifford, a neurologist at Washington University, has persuaded the federal government to grant $1.5 million for nationwide research on AIDS dementia, which will be conducted by the Neurologic AIDS Research Consortium. The consortium will do clinical trials of drugs to reduce the impact of AIDS on the brain and nervous system. HIV has been found in the brains of almost all patients who die from AIDS. Approximately 20 percent of all AIDS patients develop dementia. The cause of AIDS dementia is not known. Researchers speculate, however, that the cause is not nerve damage by HIV, but may be a toxic effect triggered by HIV infection. AZT relieves symptoms of many dementia patients, said Clifford. His consortium is planning a trial of a drug, nimodipine, that keeps HIV from damaging nerve cells in test tube. The hope is that the effect will be identical for patients.
The CDC National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention makes this information available as a public service only. Providing this information does not constitute endorsement by the CDC. Reproduction of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold, and the CDC National AIDS Clearinghouse should be cited as the source. Copyright 1996, Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD
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