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AIDS dementia complex

Related Terms

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Background

  • AIDS dementia complex (ADC), also known as HIV dementia, HIV encephalopathy and HIV-associated dementia, is a common neurologic disorder associated with HIV infection and AIDS. Dementia occurs when neurocognitive impairment is severe enough to interfere with an individual's daily activities.
  • The human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV infection, is a retrovirus that causes AIDS (autoimmunodeficiency syndrome). The retrovirus primarily attacks the body's immune system, making the body extremely vulnerable to opportunistic infections (infections that occur in immunocompromised individuals).
  • HIV is transmitted from person to person via bodily fluids. It can be spread by sexual contact with an infected person, by sharing needles/syringes with someone who is infected, or, less commonly (and rare in countries where blood is screened for HIV antibodies), through transfusions with infected blood. HIV has been found in saliva and tears in very low quantities and concentrations in some AIDS patients. However, contact with saliva, tears or sweat has never been shown to result in HIV transmission.
  • The opportunistic infections that are associated with HIV do not cause ADC. Instead, HIV causes ADC. AIDS dementia complex is a metabolic encephalopathy (degenerative brain disease), which is caused by HIV infection and fueled by immune activation of brain macrophages (large white blood cells that engulf foreign substances in the body) and microglia (brain cells that digest dead neurons). These cells are infected with HIV and secrete neurotoxins that ultimately destroy neurons (brain cells), which cannot be regenerated. Therefore, the damage caused by ADC is irreversible.
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Causes

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Symptoms

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Stages

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Self-Care At Home

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.