HIV-Related Neurocognitive Disorders and Drugs of Abuse: Mired in Confound, Surrounded by Risk

Cheryl A. Kennedy, Erin Zerbo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


It has long been known that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) uses the central nervous system (CNS) as a reservoir and nursery to replicate; therein, it does damage to cells and creates an inflammation that in turn allows for more virus to pass the blood–brain barrier. The inflammatory process itself can cause considerable damage. Neurocognitive disturbance from HIV infection is also known to occur at any stage of the infection. Likewise, common drugs of abuse also have adverse neurocognitive effects on their own. This review examines the literature available to try to elucidate the mechanisms of neurocognitive disorders in the HIV-infected individuals who have used drugs of abuse. Although the incidence of HIV-associated dementia (HAD) has decreased with the advent of highly active anti-retroviral therapy, less severe forms of neurocognitive impairment persist, even with supported immune systems and undetectable viral loads. Considerations for prevention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-236
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


  • Alcohol and cognition
  • Alcohol use/abuse
  • Apoliproprotein
  • Attention deficits
  • Basal ganglia
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Cannabis
  • Club drugs and HIV
  • Club drugs and cognition
  • Cocaine-induced
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Cognitive disorders and HIV
  • Cognitive rehabilitation
  • Dopamine
  • Drugs of abuse
  • Executive functions
  • Frontal striatal
  • HAND
  • HIV
  • HIV and co-morbidity
  • HIV-1 associated dementia
  • Hepatitis C
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Macrophages
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamine-induced
  • Morphine
  • Neuro-pathogenesis HIV
  • Neurocognitive impairment
  • Psychostimulants
  • Reaction time
  • Sensorimotor cortex
  • Stimulants
  • Substance use disorders
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Working memory


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