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J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care. 2007 Jul-Aug;18(4):32-40.

Distal sensory polyneuropathy in the context of HIV/AIDS.

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Global Health and Academic Partnerships, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities and Center for Nursing Excellence, USA.


Peripheral neuropathy, or distal sensory polyneuropathy (DSPN), is the most common neurological problem in HIV disease. DSPN also represents a complex symptom that occurs because of peripheral nerve damage related to advanced HIV disease and in association with the use of antiretroviral therapy-particularly in individuals treated with dideoxynucleosides. Although DSPN is a frequent symptom, the specific pathophysiology is not well understood. The HIV-related neuropathies are commonly categorized as distal sensory polyneuropathies, although antiretroviral toxic neuropathies are described in the literature. Recently, mitochondrial toxicity has been identified as a possible etiology of DSPN. As individuals with HIV/AIDS survive longer, often living for decades with the disease, chronic symptoms like DSPN must be addressed. Pharmacologic approaches, complementary therapies, and self-care behaviors that may improve quality of life and limit symptoms of DSPN are important interventions for clinicians and those living with HIV/AIDS to consider in the management of peripheral neuropathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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