Complications of HIV/AIDS


About complications: Complications of HIV/AIDS are secondary conditions, symptoms, or other disorders that are caused by HIV/AIDS. In many cases the distinction between symptoms of HIV/AIDS and complications of HIV/AIDS is unclear or arbitrary.

Complications list for HIV/AIDS: The list of complications that have been mentioned in various sources for HIV/AIDS includes:

Complications of HIV/AIDS: HIV infection may cause damage to the brain and spinal cord, causing encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain), nerve damage, difficulties in thinking (i.e., AIDS dementia complex), behavioral changes, poor circulation, headache, and stroke. AIDS-related cancers such as lymphoma and opportunistic infections (OI) may also affect the nervous system. Neurological symptoms may be mild in the early stages of AIDS, but may become severe in the final stages. Complications vary widely from one patient to another. Cerebral toxoplasmosis, a common OI in AIDS patients, causes such symptoms as headache, confusion, lethargy, and low-grade fever. Other symptoms may include weakness, speech disturbance, ataxia, apraxia, seizures, and sensory loss. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a disorder that can also occur in AIDS patients, causes weakness, hemiparesis or facial weakness, dysphasia, vision loss, and ataxia. Some patients with PML may also develop compromised memory and cognition. 1

Women suffer from the same complications of AIDS that afflict men but also suffer gender-specific manifestations of HIV disease, such as recurrent vaginal yeast infections and severe pelvic inflammatory disease, which increase their risk of cervical cancer. Women also exhibit different characteristics from men for many of the same complications of antiretroviral therapy, such as lipodystrophy.2

Many older people who have HIV/AIDS live in isolation because they are afraid to tell family and friends about their illness. They may have more severe depression than younger people. Older people are less likely to join support groups. Older people with HIV/AIDS need help coping both emotionally and physically with the disease. As the infection progresses, they will need help getting around and caring for themselves. Older people with AIDS need support and understanding from their doctors, family, friends, and community.3

Complications of HIV/AIDS: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to complications of HIV/AIDS:

1. excerpt from NINDS Neurological Manifestations of AIDS Information Page: NINDS
2. excerpt from HIV Infection in Women, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID
3. excerpt from HIV, AIDS, and Older People - Age Page - Health Information: NIA

Last revision: April 2, 2003

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