Research

India to study neurological impairment of HIV infected

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If studies in the West talk of NeuroAIDS and how the virus can sneak into the brain to cause dementia, back home in Pune, experts at the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) have planned an ambitious study to find the prevalence of neurocognitive impairment in HIV infected individuals. NeuroAIDS that is looked at as the Achilles’ heel of HIV therapy has had patients forget phone numbers and slacken their movements. Not everyone worsens and doctors can’t predict who will. The Indian Express had reported earlier that scientists at NARI had standardised tests to suit the Indian population and detect the neurocognitive impairment of HIV infected individuals. Now armed with a battery of ‘Indian culture specific’ neurological tests to diagnose symptoms which afflicts at least one in five persons, a collaborative study will get underway in Pune. The study partners include NARI and University of California, says Dr R S Paranjape, Director of NARI. Dr Sanjay Mehendale, Deputy Director, Senior Grade, NARI, who is the principal Investigator told The Indian Express that studies will be done on 300 HIV positive individuals and 300 participants who were not affected with HIV. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has provided NARI a place at Model Colony for setting up an Anti-retroviral treatment (ART) centre apart from laboratory facilities The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has given the green signal for the study, Dr Manisha Ghate, Assistant Director NARI, said. There is increasing evidence in the West that shows cognitive difficulties among HIV infected individuals and hence the study will include tests that check memory, motor skills and neuro-psychological function. According to Ghate, a pilot study using these tests had been conducted among some 30 HIV-infected individuals and a fair number (47 per cent) showed neurological impairment. Ghate feels these studies are just the tip of the iceberg and underlines the importance of the proposed study to understand the neurological impairment of HIV infected individuals.

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