Manifestations of HIV infection in the peripheral nervous system

Lancet Neurol. 2013 Mar;12(3):295-309. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70002-4.


Peripheral nerve disorders are associated with all stages of HIV infection. Distal sensory polyneuropathy is characterised by often-disabling pain that is difficult to treat. It is prevalent in both high-income and low-income settings. In low-income settings, use of potentially neurotoxic antiretrovirals, which are inexpensive and widely available, contributes substantially to incidence. Research has focused on identification of factors that predict risk of distal sensory polyneuropathy and elucidation of the multifactorial mechanisms behind pathogenesis. Sensorimotor polyneuropathies and polyradiculopathies are less frequent than distal sensory polyneuropathy, but still occur in low-income settings and have potentially devastating consequences. However, many of these diseases can be treated successfully with a combination of antiretroviral and immune-modulating therapies. To distinguish between peripheral nerve disorders that have diverse, overlapping, and frequently atypical presentations can be challenging; a framework based on a clinicoanatomical approach might assist in the diagnosis and management of such disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / methods
  • Drug Therapy, Combination / methods
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology*