HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders

Last revised by Tom Foster on 28 Apr 2023

HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs), is a term that emerged from an international conference in 2006 1, and corresponds to a group of clinical syndromes related to the HIV infection in the cells of the nervous system expressing different degrees of impairment of cognition and associated functioning. They are part of neuroAIDS.

Three different clinical conditions have been defined 1-3:

  • asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment: characterized by impairment in cognitive function clinically diagnosed, however the everyday functioning is not affected
  • mild neurocognitive disorder: characterized by impairment in cognitive function clinically diagnosed and mild interference in everyday functioning
  • HIV-associated dementia (HAD): characterized by marked impairment in cognitive function which significantly limits abilities to function in daily work, home and social activities. It was previously referred as AIDS dementia complex and is the only condition which demonstrates clear recognisable features of HIV encephalopathy on MRI.

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