The newsletter of the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University

How Does HIV cause Dementia

HIV Dementia is caused by the HIV virus, the virus that causes AIDS. The HIV virus attacks and progressively destroying the immune system.

The HIV virus can directly infect the brain and can also weaken the immune system, allowing other infections to enter the brain and cause encephalitis. The resulting brain damage may be visible on MRI as generalized brain atrophy (shrinkage) and also visibly damaged subcortical areas.

Symptoms of Dementia

The behavioral symptoms parallel dementia - indeed, the condition is often called the AIDS-dementia complex. Early symptoms include memory loss, loss of concentration, and personality changes. In later stages, there can be confusion and sometimes psychosis.

by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain