HIV Attacks Young Brain, Even with Early Treatment

Published Online: Wednesday, January 8th, 2020
Recent studies have shown that the HIV virus may affect the brains of children living with and exposed to the virus, even with early antiretroviral therapy (ART). HIV can disrupt neurodevelopment, which affects how children learn, reason, and function.
 
A 2-year longitudinal study by Michael Boivin, professor and director of the Psychiatry Research Program in the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Osteopathic Medicine found that early treatment and proper care did not remove the chance for children living with HIV to experience significant neuropsychological problems. Although treatment helps to keep children alive and healthier than they would be without treatment, it should be noted that these precautions should begin earlier than 6 months of age.
 
The researchers evaluated the neuropsychological development of 3 groups of children aged 5 to 11 years: those who acquired HIV perinatally and were treated with ART, those exposed but HIV-negative, and those who were never exposed. The studies were conducted at 6 different study sites across 4 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
 
In late 2019, Boivin received a 5-year, $3.2 million NIH grant to continue his work with children affected by HIV in Uganda and Malawi. Researchers will be able to investigate how MSU-developed computer cognitive games can serve as tools for neurocognitive evaluation, enrichment, and potential rehabilitation.
 
 
REFERENCE
 
Even with early treatment, HIV still attacks young brains. Research@MSU. https://research.msu.edu/even-with-early-treatment-hiv-still-attacks-young-brains/. Published December 18, 2019. Accessed January 8, 2020.



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