Objective: To determine the prevalence of cognitive complaints and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs) in a cohort of aviremic HIV-positive patients. To evaluate the relevance of the HIV dementia scale to detect HANDs.
Design: Assessment of HANDs with neuropsychological tests.
Methods: Two hundred HIV-infected patients with undetectable HIV-1 RNA concentrations in the plasma, no history of major opportunistic infection of the central nervous system in the past 3 years, no current use of intravenous drugs, and no major depression answered a questionnaire designed to elicit cognitive complaints. Cognitive functions of 50 complaining and 50 noncomplaining HIV-positive patients were assessed.
Results: Patients had undetectable HIV-1 RNA concentrations for a median time of 48 months (range 3.2–136.6). The prevalence of cognitive complaints was 27%. The prevalence of HANDs was 84% among patients with cognitive complaints (asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment 24%, mild neurocognitive disorders 52%, and HIV-associated dementia 8%) and 64% among noncomplainers (asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment 60%, mild neurocognitive disorders 4%, and HIV-associated dementia 0%; P < 0.001). A score of 14 points or less on the HIV dementia scale yielded a positive predictive value of HANDs of 92% in complainers and 82% in noncomplainers.
Conclusion: The prevalence of HANDs is high even in long-standing aviremic HIV-positive patients. However, HANDs without functional repercussion in daily life (asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment) is the most frequent subtype observed. In this population, the HIV dementia scale with a cutoff of 14 points or less seems to provide a useful tool to screen for the presence of HANDs.