HIV-Positive Youth May Develop Cognitive and Neurological Problems

A recent study found that youth with HIV are at increased risk of cognitive and neurological impairments. The authors of the study are urging young people to seek medical care and treatment as soon as they are diagnosed with HIV.¬†The study’s authors and researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) analyzed the health information of 200 young people between the ages of 18 to 24 who had been diagnosed with HIV within the past two years.

The youth who participated in the study were subjected to a battery of tests meant to evaluate their attention, memory, coordination and other motor skills, verbal skills and reading ability. According to the study, 69 percent of the participants exhibited a deficiency in one or more of these areas.

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“Our findings don’t change the fact that youth with HIV fare better if they are receiving medical care and appropriate treatment for HIV,” Bill Kapogiannis, M.D., one of the authors of the study, said.

While previous studies established that adults with HIV commonly experience mild to moderate impairment in cognitive skills, the researchers responsible for the NIH study believe that theirs was the first to examine the link between cognitive impairment and youth with HIV.

The study’s authors admit that they were unable to definitely determine whether neurological and cognitive deficiencies in HIV-infected youth can be attributed to the HIV virus itself or some other factor common to the youths in the study. However, they believe that youth with chronic or advanced HIV, and youth who consume alcohol excessively, are more likely to have neurological and cognitive impairments.

Get Tested for HIV

Still, Dr. Kapogiannis says that it is vital that youth who have been infected with HIV should get tested and treated once they become aware of their condition.

“Getting into care will help them maintain their own health, and keep them from passing the virus onto others,” Kapogiannis said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four new HIV infections occurs in youth between the ages of 13 to 24. In addition, approximately 12,000 youth were infected with HIV, an average of 1,000 per month, as of 2010.

60 Percent of HIV-Positive Youth Do Not Know They’re Infected:

The CDC reports that approximately 60 percent of HIV-infected youth do not know that they have the virus, and as a result they do not seek the treatment they need and can unknowingly pass the infection to others. Many youth with HIV may not be aware that they have been infected because symptoms of the virus may not present themselves for months, days or even years.

The only way to know for sure if you have been infected with HIV is to get tested. We provide two types of HIV tests: the HIV Antibody Test and the HIV RNA Test. If you believe you may be at risk, order one of these tests today and get the testing information you need.

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