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If individuals who take STD tests discover they are HIV positive, they may be better prepared to deal with certain health complications, such as HIV-associated dementia. Recently, researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center studied the development of this condition, potentially leading the way to new therapies.
"We believe we have discovered a general mechanism of neuronal decline that even explains what happens in some elderly folks," said researcher, Italo Mocchetti, Ph.D. "The HIV-infected patients who develop this syndrome are usually quite young, but their brains act old."
Previous studies suggested that HIV-associated dementia may be associated with reduced production of the compound mature brain derived neurotrophic factor (mature BDNF) in the brain. In order to investigate further, a team of scientists studied the brains of HIV-positive patients who died.
Results suggested that the virus interfered with the brain's ability to produce mature BDNF, leading to cognitive impairments. These findings may inform the development of future treatments for HIV-associated dementia.
According to experts, about 30 percent of HIV-positive individuals who do not take retroviral therapies develop dementia. This underscores the importance of routine STD tests.
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