New Study Reveals That HIV Hinders Brain Development And Weakens Cognitive Abilities


Scientists have found young patients with HIV who do receive proper treatment had major disruptions in brain structure, poor physique and defects in connections, and weak cognitive performance compared to fellows without the virus.

Not only does HIV badly invade the immune system but also it affects brain development.

According to a study published online in Brain Connectivity, young adults who suffer from HIV, but do not receive proper treatment or any treatment at all have their brains affected in a way that weakens their cognitive abilities which cause difficulties in learning and saving information.

The experiment

“The most interesting aspect of this study was that it was performed in young adults with limited or no history of HIV treatment,” explained Christopher Pawela, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Brain Connectivity in a statement. “The fact that the authors were able to detect changes in such a resilient young population gives credence to the hypothesis that HIV infection is associated with brain alternations and corresponding abnormalities in cognitive abilities.”

The researchers called 29 HIV-positive adults, who did not receive treatment, around the age of 25 and 16 control young adults. All volunteers live in South Africa. MRIs examined the youngsters’ brains, considering brain structure and the limit of connections between different areas of the brain.


It was revealed volunteers with HIVsuffered from major brain disruptions that caused poor structural integration, connection strength, and structural segregation than peers who have undergone treatment for their infections.

“Results from this study indicate disruption to brain network integrity in treatment-limited HIV+ young adults with corresponding abnormalities in cognitive performance,” the study concluded.

Researchers think that the inflammation caused by initial HIV infection is the reason behind the defects in cognitive abilities.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV infections among youngsters is a rampant problem that the whole world faces. In 2015, teenagers and young adults aged 13 to 24 have 22% of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States.