A medication commonly prescribed for patients infected with HIV may lead to declines in memory, Johns Hopkins research suggests. About half of all HIV patients develop some form of cognitive impairment, which has long been linked to the disease itself. But researchers say the drug efavirenz, part of the anti-retroviral cocktail typically prescribed for HIV patients, may contribute as well.
The Johns Hopkins study suggests the drug may damage nerve cells. Results are published online in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
"People with HIV infections can't stop taking anti-retroviral drugs. We know what happens then and it's not good," says Norman J. Haughey, an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But we need to be very careful about the types of anti-retrovirals we prescribe, and take a closer look at their long-term effects. Drug toxicities could be a major contributing factor to cognitive impairment in patients with HIV."Read more from Johns Hopkins Medicine