AIDS Dementia Complex

(ADC; AIDS Encephalopathy; AIDS-related Dementia; ARD; HIV-associated Dementia Complex; HIV Encephalopathy; HIV Associated Encephalopathy (HAE), HIV associated Cognitive/Motor Complex)

Definition

AIDS dementia complex (ADC) can occur in people with AIDS. ADC results in changes in multiple neurologic areas:
  • Cognition—the ability to understand, process, and remember information
  • Behavior—difficulty performing daily tasks
  • Emotions—may have personality changes and depression
  • Motor coordination—the ability to coordinate muscles and movement
ADC is a common nervous system complication of late-stage HIV infection.
Immune System
Immune system white blood cell
HIV destroys white blood cells vital to the immune system.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

It is not clearly understood how HIV infection causes ADC.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of having ADC include:
  • Untreated HIV infection
  • Late-stage AIDS

Symptoms

Symptoms usually develop slowly and worsen over time. They can be grouped into stages:

Stage 1 (Mild)

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering details, such as phone numbers, appointments, or tracking daily activities
  • Slowed thinking
  • Longer time needed to complete complicated tasks
  • Irritability
  • Unsteady walking, tremor, or difficulty keeping balance
  • Poor hand function
  • Change in handwriting
  • Depression

Stage 2 (Moderate)

  • Weakness
  • More focus and attention needed
  • Slow responses
  • Frequently dropping objects
  • Feelings of indifference
  • Slowness or difficulty with normal activities, such as eating or writing
Walking, balance, and coordination require a great deal of effort at this stage.

Stages 3 and 4 (Severe and End Stage)

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Abnormal gait, making walking more difficult
  • Muteness
  • Withdrawing from life
  • Severe mental disorders, such as psychosis or mania
  • Unable to leave bed

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