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.
An emission tomography (SPECT) scan in combination with MRI brain scan can show valuable information (thanks to www.med.harvard.edu 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.
1. OL Lopez et al. Neurology 2000 Dec 55(12):1863-1869.
2. K Yasojima et al. Brain Res 2000 DEC 887(1):80-89.
3. A Kontush et al. FreeRadicBiol Med2001Jan30(1): 119-128.
4. H Vanderstichele et al. Amyloid 2000Dec7(4):245-258.
5. Neely et al. Lipids 2000 Nov35(11):1249-1257.
6. RA Yokel Neurotoxicology 2000 Oct21(5):813-828.
7. Petanceska et al. Exp Gerontol 2000 Dec 35 (9-10):1317-1325.
8. MB Liddell et al. Brit J Psychiatry 2001 Jan 178: 7-11.
9. Sramek et al.ExpertOpinInvestigDrugs2000Apr9(4):899-915.
10.K Kosaka et al. Neuropathology 2000 March 20(1): 1-7.
11.V Haroutunian et al.Arch Neurol 2000 Aug57(8):1145-1150.
12. C Puckett et al. Am J Hum Genet 1991Aug49(2):320-329.
13. M Haltia Ann Med 2000 Oct 32(7): 439-500.
14. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc.
15. Rakel: Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier