Treating older patients with HIV/AIDS: Assessing depression vs cognitive dysfunction

Sarah Anwar, MDLinx

American Psychiatric Association 2018 Annual Meeting

New York, New York, United States | May 05-09, 2018

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New York, NY, May 11, 2018—Although it is encouraging that more and more patients infected with HIV/AIDS are living to older ages, managing symptomatology these patients may often be difficult, according to Jordi Blanch, MD, PhD, Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu, Unversitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain, here at the American Psychiatric Association 2018 Annual Meeting.

“This is a very complex topic because those patients getting older and older may have psychotic problems but also problems from being older. That means that there is some kind of cognitive impairment, which is sometimes difficult to differentiate from depression,” he said.

Dementia, cognitive impairment, depression, and HIV infection can cause bothersome symptoms.

“In many cases, it could be the HIV infection itself, which induces changes in the brain which could be presented as depressive symptoms or as cognitive symptoms. The first would be to treat the HIV infection well, using antiretroviral treatment and [achieving] good control,” said Dr. Blanch.

Screening tools and brief questionnaires may be helpful in measuring cognitive impairment. HIV physicians must be familiar with these tools and use them effectively.

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