How HIV Associated Neurological Disorders in The Body

How HIV Associated Neurological Disorders in The Body

HIV Associated Neurological Disorders

AIDS is one of the most deadly ailments from which millions of people are affected globally every year. The number of deaths from AIDS is highest in the African continent. Women in reproductive age are mostly vulnerable to this disease. The HIV virus is very dangerous and attacks the immune system in individuals badly. The immune system is destroyed in such a manner that the body is vulnerable to various kinds of life-threatening complications. As a result, the body gets attacked from certain kinds of cancers and infection rates are higher. Since AIDS attacks the immune system, the entire central nervous system, including the spinal cord and brain is affected due to the same. As a result, various kinds of neurological complications start taking place in the body.

Mentioned Below are Some of the HIV Associated Neurological Disorders:


It is quite frightening to note that the nerves all throughout the body can be damaged from AIDS. And with the nerves damaged, the patient will feel significant weakness and pain, which is also known as neuropathy in medical terms. People suffering from advanced HIV usually have these symptoms.


Patients with highly advanced AIDS face the problem of dementia. HIV associated dementia can become quite complex. Cognitive functions can be greatly impaired. Patients suffering from HIV induced dementia will have problems in understanding, thinking and memory. Often, such kind of dementia can prove to be life threatening. With the right kinds of antiretroviral medications, such situations can be averted successfully.

Parasitic and Fungal Infections:

Cryptococcal meningitis is a dreaded disease, which affects the brain and the spinal cord gravely. A virus causes this disease and the main symptom is inflammation of the spinal cord and the brain. Along with this ailment, toxoplasma encephalitis can also be caused by a vicious parasite and affect the central nervous system. Symptoms of this disease include extremely painful headaches, high levels of confusion and even seizures. When not treated at the right time, these conditions can prove to be life threatening.

Various Kinds of Viral Infections:

Viral infections attacking the nervous system are quite common in patients suffering from HIV AIDS. Cytomegalovirus infections tend to impair various cognitive functions in the body, hearing and vision abilities, physical control like limb and arm movement and bladder control as well as the respiratory system leading to complications like pneumonia. Herpes virus infection is another viral attack that is common in AIDS patients. In this, there are shingles like appearance along with inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is also a disease caused by the virus and is quite dangerous and aggressive at the same time.

Psychological Disorders:

The connection of HIV and the brain far fetches to psychological levels too. Most patients suffering from HIV AIDS are seen to have anxiety disorders. Depression is also commonly seen in these patients. Behavioral changes have also been seen in many patients and some of the symptoms can be quite aggravating too. Many patients complain of hallucinations too, and these can be deadly if not tackled in the right manner at the right time.

Vacuolar Myelopathy:

As said earlier, HIV AIDS impacts the immune system gravely and this in turn has adverse effects on the central nervous system. In vacuolar myelopathy, tiny holes are developed in the nerve fibers of the spinal cord. Patients with this problem often suffer from difficulty in walking. As conditions get worse, the patient loses his ability to walk properly. Patients of HIV AIDS who are not getting treatment mainly suffer from this neurological disorder. Children suffering from AIDS also face these symptoms.


Patients who are infected with HIV virus and suffer from syphilis at the same time can face critical situations. The chances of critical situations are high when the problems are untreated and go unnoticed. What happens is that both the diseases together adversely affect the nervous system in the body. The nerve cells in the body start breaking down and lead to various problems like dementia, loss of hearing and vision, difficulty in walking etc.


Tumors known as lymphomas often hit the brain of patients suffering from HIV AIDS. This is often related to another virus, which has similarities to herpes virus. It is true that lymphomas can have life-threatening conditions, but management of HIV can make treating this problem successful.

HIV associated neurological disorders can get really severe when not treated at the right time. Sehat provides you the list of best neurologists in Delhi or the city you live in.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad