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J Neurovirol. 2012 Aug;18(4):264-76. doi: 10.1007/s13365-012-0092-3. Epub 2012 Apr 14.

Cerebrovascular disease in HIV-infected individuals in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy.

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  • 1St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia.


The widespread use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in HIV-infected individuals mostly in developed countries has dramatically improved their prognosis. In such advantaged regions of the world, therefore, many patients are now transitioning from middle into older age, with altered patterns of disease. While previously a rare complication of HIV infection, cerebrovascular disease (particularly that associated with atherosclerosis) is becoming relatively more important in this treated group of individuals. This review summarises the evidence regarding the shifting epidemiology of cerebrovascular diseases affecting HIV-infected individuals. While outlining the association between HIV infection and AIDS and cerebrovascular disease, as well as opportunistic diseases and HIV-associated vasculopathies, the current evidence supporting an increase in atherosclerotic disease in treated HIV-infected individuals is emphasised and a management approach to ischaemic stroke in HIV-infected individuals is presented. Evidence supporting the important role of HAART and HIV infection itself in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic disease is discussed, together with preventative approaches to this increasingly important disease process as the population ages. Finally, a discussion regarding the significant association between cerebrovascular disease and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder is presented, together with possible mechanisms behind this relationship.

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