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. 2019 Oct 30;1:28.
doi: 10.12688/aasopenres.12921.2. eCollection 2018.

Screening Tools for HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorders Among Adults Living With HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: A Scoping Review

Free PMC article

Screening Tools for HIV-associated Neurocognitive Disorders Among Adults Living With HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: A Scoping Review

Patrick N Mwangala et al. AAS Open Res. .
Free PMC article


Background: People living with HIV are at risk of developing HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) which adversely affects their quality of life. Routine screening of HAND in HIV care is recommended to identify clinically important changes in cognitive functioning and allow for early interventions. However, HAND detection in routine clinical practice has never been reported in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), partly due to a lack of adequately standardized screening tools. This review was conducted to identify the commonly used screening tools for HAND in SSA and document their psychometric properties and diagnostic accuracy. Methods: We searched Ovid Medline, PsycINFO and Web of Sciences databases for empirical studies published from 1/1/1980 to 31/8/2018 on HAND among adults living with HIV in SSA. Results: We identified 14 eligible studies, of which 9 were from South Africa. The International HIV Dementia Scale (IHDS) was the most frequently reported tool, being used in more than half of the studies. However most studies only reported the diagnostic accuracy of this and other tools, with specificity ranging from 37% to 81% and sensitivity ranging from 45% to 100%. Appropriate data on construct validity and reliability of tools was rarely documented. Although most tools performed well in screening for severe forms of HAND, they lacked sensitivity and specificity for mild forms of HAND. NeuroScreen, one of the newer tools, yielded good diagnostic accuracy in its initial evaluation in South Africa (81% to 93% sensitivity and 71% to 81% specificity). Conclusions: This review identified a lack of adequately standardized and contextually relevant HAND screening tools in SSA. Most screening tools for HAND used in SSA possess inadequate psychometric properties and diagnostic accuracy. There is a need for further validation of existing tools and development of new HAND screening tools in SSA.

Keywords: Adults; HIV; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders; Scoping review; Screening tools; sub-Saharan Africa.

Conflict of interest statement

No competing interests were disclosed.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.. A flow diagram showing the article screening process of this review.

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Grant support

This work was supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust Master’s Fellowship in Public Health and Tropical Medicine (grant number 208283) to PNM. A.A. is a fellow of the African Academy of Sciences.

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