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THE BRAIN: VIRAL SANCTUARY FOR THE HIV VIRUS

Varda Ullman Novick vunovick at netcom.com
Sun Sep 28 18:46:17 EST 1997


RESEARCHERS STUDY THE BRAIN AS A VIRAL SANCTUARY FOR THE HIV VIRUS 
-- Satellite Symposium to Discuss Treatment Implications --

TORONTO, September 27, 1997 -- HIV-related dementia and other 
neurological disorders may be driven by uncontrolled viral replication 
occuring in the brain and spinal cord area, said AIDS experts today
at the 37th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and 
Chemotherapy (ICAAC). 

Justin McArthur, M.D., professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins 
University and one of six distinguished researchers here at the 
symposium, examined the relationship between virus levels in the 
fluid surrounding the brain known as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and 
severity of AIDS-related dementia in 207 HIV-positive patients.  Dr. 
McArthur found that virus levels in the CSF were significantly higher 
among those patients clinically diagnosed with HIV dementia, suggesting 
that HIV found in the CSF has a direct role in AIDS-related dementia. 

"Fifteen to twenty percent of individuals with AIDS experience
HIV-associated dementia. These numbers may have declined in today's
era of highly active antiretroviral therapy, however, since only 
a few available antiretrovirals penetrate the CNS adequately, the 
role of the brain as a sanctuary for HIV replication is becoming 
increasingly important," remarked Dr. McArthur. 

HIV penetration of the central nervous system (CNS) - the brain and 
spinal cord - is frequent, sometimes occurring before the development
of opportunistic infections and AIDS. According to 1994 CDC AIDS 
surveillance data, CNS complications made up 6,419 or eight percent 
of all AIDS-defining diseases in the 79,674 patients diagnosed with 
AIDS. 

"Our hope is that by establishing markers for AIDS-related disease
progression in the brain we will be able to better identify patients 
at risk for dementia and the therapies that may help prevent or 
reverse it," commented Dr. McArthur. 

HIV-associated dementia is a brain disorder that affects an 
individual's ability to function in a social or occupational setting.  
Researchers believe that dementia may result from HIV infection of 
nerve cells in the brain. If untreated, dementia progresses quickly, 
with some patients surviving six months or less. 

                            # # #

Contact:       Rena Correia <Rena_Correia at GHGroup.com>

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