HIV is a neuropathogenic virus that may result in detrimental neurodevelopmental (ND) outcomes early in life. This is the first study to evaluate the effect of HIV-1 subtype on neurodevelopment of Ugandan preschool children.
Neurodevelopment of 87 HIV-1 infected and 221 HIV exposed uninfected Ugandan children 1.8–4.9 years of age was assessed using 4 scales of the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL), 2 scales of the Color Object Association Test (COAT), and 1 score of the Early Childhood Vigilance Test. HIV-1 subtype was defined by phylogenetic analyses. General linear models were used to relate test scores to HIV-1 subtype (A versus D) while adjusting for relevant covariates. The scores were benchmarked against HIV exposed uninfected group to facilitate the interpretation.
Seventy-one percentage of children infected with subtype A versus 60% of children with subtype D were currently on antiretroviral therapy (P = 0.49). Children with HIV-1 subtype A infection were older when compared with subtype D (3.29 vs. 2.76 years, respectively, P = 0.03), but similar regarding sex, socioeconomic status, weight-for-age z-score, CD4+ and CD8+ (% and total), viral load. No statistically significant differences by HIV-1 subtype were observed in the MSEL, COAT and Early Childhood Vigilance Test. Differences ≥ 0.33 of the SD were observed for the MSEL Composite Score, Receptive Language (MSEL) and Total Memory (COAT).
In contrast to previously reported differences in ND outcomes of school-age children by HIV-1 subtype, ND scores among preschool children were similar for subtypes A and D, with few potential differences on language production and memory outcomes that favored subtype A. Further investigation with larger sample sizes and longitudinal follow-up is needed.