Neuropsychological functioning and viral load in stable antiretroviral therapy-experienced HIV-infected children

Rita J. Jeremy*, Soyeon Kim, Molly Nozyce, Sharon Nachman, Kenneth McIntosh, Stephen I. Pelton, Ram Yogev, Andrew Wiznia, George M. Johnson, Paul Krogstad, Kenneth Stanley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Objective. Neuropsychological functioning and its correlation with viral load were investigated for previously treated HIV-infected children who underwent a change in treatment regimen. Methods. Thirteen age-appropriate measures of cognitive, neurologic, and behavioral functioning were administered to 489 HIV-infected children who were aged 4 months to 17 years and had been treated previously for at least 16 weeks with antiretroviral therapy. These clinically and immunologically stable children were randomized onto 1 of 7 drug treatment combinations, 6 of which included a protease inhibitor (PI), and evaluated prospectively for 48 weeks with respect to changes in neuropsychological performance and viral load. Results. Neuropsychological functioning was significantly poorer at baseline for the HIV-infected children as compared with established norms for their age. Children with higher viral load had poorer cognitive, bothhands fine-motor, and neurologic signs at baseline, but single-hand fine-motor and behavioral functioning were not correlated with viral load. After 48 weeks of treatment with PI-containing combination therapy, there was significant improvement in only the vocabulary score. Neuropsychological changes did not differ among the 6 PI-containing combination regimens. At week 48, even children with a viral load response below the level of detection (RNA ≤400 copies/mL) still showed poorer neuropsychological functioning compared with established norms. Conclusion. Poor neuropsychological functioning was seen for HIV-infected children and was worse for children with higher viral loads. Only 1 measure of neuropsychological functioning showed improvement after treatment with PI-containing combination therapy, and the extent of that improvement was relatively minor. Treatment strategies for children with HIV disease need to be reevaluated so that they consider restoration of neuropsychological functioning in addition to lowering the viral load.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-387
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Antiretroviral agents
  • Behavior
  • Child
  • Cognitive science
  • HIV
  • Neurologic examination
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Protease inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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