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AIDS Dementia

AIDS dementia can be caused from the AIDS virus, but with the immune system being weakened by the AIDS virus other viruses, bacteria, fungi or protozoa cause so called opportunistic infections of the central nervous system, which lead to a loss of brain tissue.

The result is the AIDS dementia. The symptoms that indicate that this might be happening are a slowing down of thoughts and verbal expression. There is a lack of interest, apathy, possible depression. Muscle weakness, problems with the gait and a general slowing of movements set in.

Diagnostic tests

An emission tomography (SPECT) scan in combination with MRI brain scan can show valuable information (thanks to for this link) about a lack of perfusion in the frontal brain as is the case in AIDS dementia. However, a full diagnostic work-up that a physician would do for a patient with AIDS dementia would be much more comprehensive than such a scan, which is only part of the overall testing.


If the AIDS virus is the cause of this, zidovudine (brand name: Retrovir (AZT)) can lead to impressive treatment success. However, the AIDS specialist will do some other testing to be certain not to overlook any of the other opportunistic infections or a lymphoma or leukemia of the CNS.

 AIDS Dementia

AIDS Dementia



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Last modified: November 10, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.