NeuroAIDS in sub Saharan Africa: A clinical review

Alkali, Nura H.; Bwala, Sunday A.; Nyandaiti, Yakubu W.; Danesi, Mustapha A.
March 2013
Annals of African Medicine;2013, Vol. 12 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
NeuroAIDS affects half of the 22 million people currently living with HIV/AIDS in sub Saharan Africa, where cryptococcal meningitis alone is responsible for 504,000 deaths annually. A good understanding of NeuroAIDS may help improve disease free survival in patients at risk and optimize resource utilization by caregivers. In this review, we aimed to provide a summary of major NeuroAIDS syndromes of relevance in Africa. We searched Medline for English language literature to identify relevant publications, using the search terms "NeuroAIDS" and "HIV AND nervous system." The most common NeuroAIDS syndrome is HIV associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), which affects over 1.5 million Africans yearly. While incidence of HAND has decreased with the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy, prevalence has increased due to longer life expectancy. Other NeuroAIDS syndromes include tuberculous meningitis and intracerebral tuberculoma, cryptococcal meningitis, toxoplasma encephalitis, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, primary central nervous system lymphoma, stroke, and distal sensory polyneuropathy. NeuroAIDS care and research in Africa are hindered by resource limitations. Inadequate neuroimaging and laboratory facilities result in diagnostic delays and confusion, while limited access to drugs leads to inappropriate treatment. However, the situation may be improving. Better funding of HIV care by African governments and donor agencies have resulted in decreasing HIV prevalence and prolonged survival. Yet, central nervous system opportunistic infections remain important causes of death and disability among African patients with HIV/AIDS. There is the need for additional funding to improve access to antibiotics and to facilitate further research into NeuroAIDS and its treatment.


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