Objectives: Evaluation of neurocognitive function of school-age children with HIV.
Design: Cross-sectional observational study.
Methods: Twenty-two children (median age 9.46 years) with perinatally acquired HIV infection were administered a global intelligence test and tests from the Amsterdam Neuropsychological Tasks (ANT) program. The relationship between various patient-, disease- and treatment factors and neurocognitive outcome variables was examined.
Results: Compared with age-appropriate norms, mean IQ of the HIV-infected children was in the average range. However, the HIV-infected children performed poorer on several neuropsychological tests compared with age-appropriate norms. Executive function (attentional flexibility, visuospatial working memory) and processing speed emerged as the most sensitive cognitive measures in relation to HIV disease. The correlational analyses resulted in only two significant outcomes, showing that higher CD4% at initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and longer treatment duration were associated with better working memory function and attentional control, respectively.
Conclusions: These exploratory data suggest that subtle neurocognitive impairments may exist in HIV-infected school-age children, in particular characterized by compromised executive function and slowed information processing. Further research with larger sample sizes is needed to confirm these findings.