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Wednesday 20th June 2018

HIV link to dementia in Africa

5th February 2007

15082006_feetaids1.jpgResearchers have found a strong link between HIV/AIDS and dementia in Uganda, highlighting an additional mental health burden which poor countries are ill-equipped to bear.

A recent study in Uganda, published in the journal Neurology, found that 31% of HIV-positive patients suffered memory loss, learning and behavioural difficulties associated with dementia.

Ned Sacktor, of the Johns Hopkins University which led the study, said if the results were applied across sub-Saharan Africa, then that would translate into eight million people with HIV-dementia.

The study tested 78 HIV-positive patients attending a clinic in Kampala, Uganda for brain function, comparing their results to a group of 100 people without HIV/AIDS.

HIV dementia is treatable and potentially reversible with the same antiretroviral medication that is used to treat HIV/AIDS. Treatment can restore normal functioning in some of those affected, but many developing countries cannot afford it.

This has a major impact on countries already faced with mental health problems resulting from conflict, alcoholism and poverty, Sacktor said.

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