HIV Thins Region of the Brain

Researchers have found that people with HIV suffer from degredation in one region of the Brain. Further, this degredation occurs also in people who are aggressive drug therapies to prevent the virus from destorying the immune system.

TUESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) — In disturbing news for HIV patients, research now provides visual evidence that the AIDS virus ravages some parts of the brain, even in those who follow powerful drug regimens to remain healthy.

By using high-tech scanners, researchers from two American universities found that the brains of HIV patients were 15 percent thinner in areas that control language, planning and movement. It didn’t matter if the patients were on a drug regimen known as HAART, which often allows infected individuals to keep the virus from destroying the immune system.

“The drugs clearly aren’t stopping the destruction of brain tissue,” said study co-author Paul M. Thompson, a neuroscience researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Further, the article notes that many people who have HIV also suffer from neurological problems.

Caveats: There are only one study and the sample size was pretty small. The study was done with 40 people, 26 of whom had HIV and 14 who were healthy controls. Another thing is that the article makes no mention of any other confounding factors like drug abuse, or other factors that could account for the thinning of the brain.

Still the research is rather ominous and hopefully this news will help spur new research for those who are afflicted with HIV and remind those who don’t have it to be careful in their personal behaviors.

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Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.