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Neurocognitive Effects of HIV, Hepatitis C, and Substance Use History

  • Kathryn N. Devlin (a1), Assawin Gongvatana (a1) (a2), Uraina S. Clark (a1) (a2), Jesse D. Chasman (a1) (a2), Michelle L. Westbrook (a1) (a3), Karen T. Tashima (a3) (a4), Bradford Navia (a5) and Ronald A. Cohen (a1) (a2)...


HIV-associated neurocognitive dysfunction persists in the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era and may be exacerbated by comorbidities, including substance use and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, the neurocognitive impact of HIV, HCV, and substance use in the HAART era is still not well understood. In the current study, 115 HIV-infected and 72 HIV-seronegative individuals with significant rates of lifetime substance dependence and HCV infection received comprehensive neuropsychological assessment. We examined the effects of HIV serostatus, HCV infection, and substance use history on neurocognitive functioning. We also examined relationships between HIV disease measures (current and nadir CD4, HIV RNA, duration of infection) and cognitive functioning. Approximately half of HIV-infected participants exhibited neurocognitive impairment. Detectable HIV RNA but not HIV serostatus was significantly associated with cognitive functioning. HCV was among the factors most consistently associated with poorer neurocognitive performance across domains, while substance use was less strongly associated with cognitive performance. The results suggest that neurocognitive impairment continues to occur in HIV-infected individuals in association with poor virologic control and comorbid conditions, particularly HCV coinfection. (JINS, 2012, 18, 68–78)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: Ronald A. Cohen, Centers for Behavioral & Preventive Medicine, Coro Building, Suite 314, One Hoppin Street, Providence, RI 02903. E-mail:


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