AIDS Dementia Complex
(ADC; AIDS Encephalopathy; AIDS-related Dementia; ARD; HIV-associated Dementia Complex; HIV Encephalopathy; HIV Associated Encephalopathy (HAE), HIV associated Cognitive/Motor Complex)
by Sarah J. Kerr, BA
AIDS dementia complex (ADC) can occur in people with AIDS. ADC results in changes in multiple neurologic areas:
ADC is a common nervous system complication of late-stage HIV infection.
It is not clearly understood how HIV infection causes ADC.
Factors that may increase your chance of having ADC include:
Symptoms usually develop slowly and worsen over time. They can be grouped into stages:
Stage 1 (Mild)
Stage 2 (Moderate)
Walking, balance, and coordination require a great deal of effort at this stage.
Stages 3 and 4 (Severe and End Stage)
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A mental status/neurological exam may be done.
Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
Images may be taken of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Your brain's electrical activity may be tested. This can be done with an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Anti-HIV drugs are often used to treat ADC. A medication plan will be created that is right for you. These drugs are often given in combination.
Other medications may be used along with antiretroviral therapy to treat symptoms of ADC. These may include:
ADC occurs in people with HIV. Ways to help reduce your chance of getting HIV include:
AIDS—U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Foundation for AIDS Research
AIDS Committee of Toronto
Canadian AIDS Society
AIDS dementia complex. University of California at San Francisco website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed October 2, 2017.
Luo X, Carlson KA, Wojna V, et al. Macrophage proteomic fingerprinting predicts HIV-1-associated cognitive impairment. Neurology. 2003;60(12):1931-1937.
Meehan RA, Brush JA. An overview of AIDS dementia complex. Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2001;16(4):225-229.
Nicholas MK, Collins J, Lukas RV. AIDS. Youmans & Winns Neurological Surgery, 7th Edition. Elsevier. 2016.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 8/18/2014
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