A Screening Strategy for HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders That Accurately Identifies Patients Requiring Neurological Review

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Background. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are not routinely assessed due to the lack of an adequate screening strategy. We aimed to develop a clinically relevant screening procedure for symptomatic HAND, validated against a gold standard neuropsychological (NP) test battery.

Methods. Representative HIV-infected (HIV+) and demographically matched HIV-uninfected (HIV−) participants in an observational study completed a standard evaluation for mood, drug and/or alcohol use, and activities of daily living and a newly designed 20-minute computerized CogState battery that assessed 5 cognitive domains. A subset completed standard NP assessment for 8 cognitive domains. HAND definition on screening and gold standard NP was determined using demographically corrected z scores and the global deficit score (≥ 0.5), applying the Frascati criteria. Participants were blinded to screening results, and the NP examiner was blinded to screening and HIV status.

Results. A total of 254 HIV+ participants were enrolled—mean age, 48.9 ± 10.2 years; median nadir CD4, 270 cells/mL; tertiary educated, 54%; and HIV− controls, 72. HIV+ HAND screening prevalence was 30.7% (HIV-associated dementia, 3.2%; mild neurocognitive disorder, 12.6%; and asymptomatic neurocognitive disorder, 15.0%; HIV− group: 13.9%; P = .004). Of the 75 participants who completed the NP battery, the HAND rate in the HIV+ group was 50.9% vs 43.4% by screening (P > .50). HAND screening vs gold standard NP sensitivity was 76% and specificity was 71%. Clinically relevant HIV-associated dementia and mild neurocognitive disorder sensitivity was 100% and specificity was 98% (positive predictive value 0.92).

Conclusions. Symptomatic HAND warranting neurological review was accurately predicted using a CogState-based screening procedure.

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