Teens who were perinatally infected with HIV and received treatment have similar cognitive outcomes compared with their HIV-negative peers, according to research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. However, researchers observed that HIV-positive adolescents had decreased executive functioning over time, suggestive of earlier brain damage.
“Since many HIV-infected children are aging into adulthood with access and adherence to [combination ART (cART)], the population of people with perinatal HIV infection is growing,” Malon Van den Hof, a PhD student in pediatric infectious diseases at Amsterdam University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues wrote. “Knowledge on the cognitive development of these children using cART is, however, limited.”
In a previous cross-sectional analysis of children in the NOVICE cohort study, researchers performed a standardized cognitive test. Van den Hof and colleagues repeated this test an average of 4.6 years after the first test was given. The researchers then compared cognitive trajectories of HIV-positive and HIV-negative adolescents who took both tests (21 HIV-positive teens and 23 HIV-negative teens).
Van den Hof and colleagues observed that the IQ scores of HIV-positive teens significantly increased over time compared with those of HIV-negative children (P = .012). However, those with HIV experienced a significant decline in executive functioning compared with HIV-negative children (P < .001). Patients who began cART at an older age had more severe declines in executive functioning (P = .043), according to the researchers.
“The observed relative worsening in executive functioning may be explained by the concept of ‘growing into deficit,’ similar to what has been described in other pediatric conditions that involve the central nervous system,” Van den Hof and colleagues wrote.
No statistically different outcomes related to processing speed, working memory, learning ability and visual-motor function trajectories were observed between teens with and without HIV. – by Katherine Bortz
Disclosures: Van den Hof reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.