HIV neuropathy

Michelle Kaku, David M Simpson
Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS 2014, 9 (6): 521-6

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To present an overview of HIV-associated distal symmetric polyneuropathy (HIV-DSP) and other HIV-related peripheral neuropathies in the post-highly active retroviral therapy era.

RECENT FINDINGS: HIV-DSP has become the most common neurologic complication of HIV largely due to the prolonged survival of HIV-positive patients with the advent of highly active retroviral therapy. HIV-DSP can be attributed to the disease itself or to secondary effects of certain HAART agents, and often the two disease entities cannot be distinguished. HIV-DSP can lead to significant morbidity and interfere with daily activities. Diagnosis can be obtained from a detailed history and neurologic exam revealing absent ankle jerks and abnormal, vibratory perception or decreased pinprick or temperature. Supporting studies include nerve conduction studies and skin biopsy. Although there are no United States Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments for HIV-DSP, clinicians often use off-label medications, including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, topical agents and other analgesics.

SUMMARY: The prevalence of those affected by HIV-DSP will continue to grow with the aging population of HIV-infected individuals. Compared to the diabetic neuropathy drug trials, trials in both symptomatic and disease-modifying agents for HIV-DSP have had little success. Other forms of HIV-related peripheral neuropathies are discussed briefly, and include acute and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, polyradiculopathy, mononeuropathies, mononeuritis multiplex, cranial neuropathies, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-like motor neuropathy.

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