Purpose of review: HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are common in patients with HIV disease, even during suppressive combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). This review article addresses the pathogenesis of HAND, focusing on important findings from the last 5 years.
Recent findings: While HIV-associated dementia is now rare in settings with cART availability, mild forms of HAND are increasing in prevalence. Biomarkers of cellular injury, such as neurofilament light chain and neopterin, can detect early stages of neuroinflammation associated with HIV infection and are increased even in asymptomatic individuals with chronic HIV infection. Several recent studies form a growing body of evidence that HIV can infect and replicate in monocytes and that blocking monocyte activity can potentially improve neurological outcomes in HIV. Early cART may also prevent HAND. Understanding the multifactorial causes of CNS infection and inflammation is critical to devising treatment and preventive strategies for HAND.
Keywords: CNS escape; HIV; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder; Immune activation.