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Impact of HIV and Atiretroviral Therapy on Neurocognitive Outcomes Among School-Aged Children

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Abstract

Introduction:

The impact of HIV infection and antiretroviral therapy (ART) on neurocognitive outcomes among children aged 7–14 years was assessed. We hypothesized that ART would ameliorate neurocognitive sequelae of HIV infection.

Methods:

HIV-positive and HIV-negative mother–child pairs from the Rakai Community Cohort Study and ART clinics in Rakai, Uganda, were followed prospectively for 4 years. Exposures were stratified as: perinatally HIV infected, perinatally HIV exposed but uninfected, and HIV unexposed and uninfected. The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children assessed sequential and simultaneous processing, learning, planning, knowledge, and fluid crystalized index for overall functioning. Multivariable generalized linear models estimated adjusted prevalence rate ratios by age.

Results:

Of the 370 mother–child pairs, 55% were HIV unexposed and uninfected, 7% were perinatally HIV exposed but uninfected, and 37.9% were perinatally HIV infected. Among HIV-infected children, longer duration of ART was associated with a significant improvement of sequential processing skills (adjusted prevalence rate ratios 25–36 months: 0.55, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.34 to 0.9; 37–48 months: 0.39, 95% CI: 0.2 to 0.76; 49+ months: 0.23, 95% CI: 0.1 to 0.54). Each additional year of schooling was associated with a 30%–40% decrease of impairment for all neurocognitive measures assessed. Healthier children (higher age-standardized height and weight) had improved sequential and simultaneous processing and overall fluid crystalized index.

Conclusions:

Sequential processing skills of working memory improved with prolonged ART, and increased duration of schooling was associated with a reduction of neurocognitive impairment. Early initiation and sustained use of ARTs and longer schooling are needed to reduce neurocognitive impairment among HIV-infected school-aged children.

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