The effect on neuropsychological function of antiretroviral drugs that are able to penetrate into the brain in effective concentration (neuroactive drugs) remains unclear.
To investigate whether highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) containing neuroactive drugs is associated with better neuropsychological performance in patients with human immunodeficiency virus disease.
Tertiary referral hospital outpatient clinics.
The study population consisted of 97 individuals positive for human immunodeficiency virus (stage C3, 1993 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classification) whose condition had been stable on their current HAART regimen for a mean ± SD of 18.5 ± 16.5 months and who were aged 48.14 ± 9.38 years. The patient groups were analyzed according to whether their regimen contained 3 or more neuroactive drugs (neuroHAART group; n = 41) or not (HAART group; n = 56). Thirty seronegative men matched for age and education were recruited as controls.
Main Outcome Measure
Neuropsychological performance on 7 cognitive domains.
The neuroHAART and HAART groups did not differ from one another on neuropsychological performance, but both patient groups were impaired compared with controls. Impaired patients in each treatment group were compared, and the neuroHAART group showed significantly better memory performance, unrelated to plasma viral load, than the HAART group.
No direct benefit of neuroactive HAART therapy was found in patients with advanced human immunodeficiency virus infection. However, in neuropsychologically impaired patients, there was a benefit in memory function. This suggests that a threshold of neuropsychological impairment is required for the benefit of neuroactive HAART.