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Cognitive Consequences of Aging With HIV: Implications for Neuroplasticity and Rehabilitation

Vance, David E. PhD, MGS; McDougall, Graham J. Jr PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA; Wilson, Natalie DNP, MPH, MSN, AAHIVS; Debiasi, Marcus Otavio DDS, MSBMS, BSN, RN; Cody, Shameka L. MSN

Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: January/March 2014 - Volume 30 - Issue 1 - p 35–45
doi: 10.1097/TGR.0000000000000002

Combination active antiretroviral therapy prevents HIV from replicating and ravaging the immune system, thus allowing people to age with this disease. Unfortunately, the synergistic effects of HIV and aging can predispose many to become more at risk of developing cognitive deficits, which can interfere with medical management, everyday functioning, and quality of life. The purpose of this article is to describe the role of cognitive reserve and neuroplasticity on cognitive functioning in those aging with this disease. Specifically, the role of environment and the health of these individuals can compromise cognitive functioning. Fortunately, some cognitive interventions such as prevention and management of comorbidities, cognitive remediation therapy, and neurotropic medications may be of value in preventing and rehabilitating the cognitive consequences of aging with HIV. Novel approaches such as cognitive prescriptions, transcranial direct stimulation, and binaural beat therapy may also be considered as possible techniques for cognitive rehabilitation.

Center for Nursing Research (Dr Vance), School of Nursing (Drs Wilson and Debiasi, and Ms Cody), University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Rural Health Nursing, Capstone College of Nursing, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (Dr McDougall).

Correspondence: David E. Vance, PhD, MGS, Center for Nursing Research, School of Nursing, University of Alabama at Birmingham, NB Bldg, Room 2M026, 1701 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35294 (

The authors have no financial acknowledgements. There are no conflicts of interest.

© 2014Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins