Brain Impairment

Brain impairment is a term used to refer to problems such as memory loss, confusion, behavioural changes and problems with coordination or movement.

These types of brain problems are usually linked to ageing and tend to be seen in older people.

Subtle brain impairment, on the other hand, includes 'unnoticeable' symptoms such as forgetting names or losing things, which could also be put down to lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep or stress.
It was previously thought that rates of brain impairment in people living with HIV were around 50%, but a recent study at St Mary's Hospital has found that subtle brain impairment affects around 19% of people who are HIV positive compared to 16% of the general population.

The risk of developing brain impairment is higher if someone has a late HIV diagnosis or if they have a CD4 count below 200. In this situation antiretroviral treatments can sometimes reverse the problem.
You can reduce your likelihood of developing brain impairment by stopping smoking, reducing your alcohol intake and not taking recreational drugs. Similarly eating a healthy diet, reducing cholesterol and treating high blood pressure can help. Managing stress and depression is also important.

If you have any concerns about your memory or think you may be experiencing some brain impairment, talk to your doctor. There are tests which can determine whether you have a problem and if necessary your healthcare team will be able to recommend treatment to help.