AIDS Dementia Complex

AIDs Dementia Complex is a condition of memory loss and other neurological functions that are affected with HIV spreads to the brain. It can also be known as HIV encephalopathy and HIV dementia.

This disorder is associated with a worsening or more severe case of HIV and AIDS and the greater the spread of the infection, often the more pronounced dementia.

The typical symptoms affect the Brain in which the virus enters the tissue of the brain and causes changes to several different types of cells. This includes: Macrophages and Microglia. Often, this causes encephalopathy or a condition where the membranes of the brain and spinal cord swell.

Neurotoxins from the brain cells involved secrete neurotoxins from the host involved and the HIV viruses.

Typically the symptoms begin after years of HIV infection. It can be seen in up to 20% of HIV patients in Western Countries.


– Dysfunction of motor movement
– Difficulty with concentration
– Fatigue
– Confusion
– Mental change


Stage 0 – Normal mental status and normal motor function

Stage 0.5 – Very minimal symptoms but the overall symptoms do not affect daily activity level

Stage 1 – Mild symptoms are present and daily activity level is somewhat affected

Stage 2 – Moderate symptoms and daily activity level are greatly affected.  Still can perform at a level for self-care

Stage 3 – Severe symptoms that affect daily life with memory difficulties, difficulty walking without assistance, problems with conversation

Stage 4 – This is the end stage portion of the disease – Practically unable to talk or otherwise communicate.  Unable to walk


–  MRI and CT may be somewhat effective
–  Lumbar puncture
–  Blood work
–  Physical Exam
–  History of HIV


–  Treatment can be very difficult due to the cause
–  Often treatment begins/continues with the treatment for AIDS/HIV.
–  Future research points to treatment involving brain cells involved in this disease.