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There is a growing concern that long-term HIV infection and aging may increase the risk of developing degenerative brain diseases similar to Alzheimer's disease.

We are conducting a study to better understand whether long-term HIV infection increases the risk of developing difficulties with memory and concentration in HIV+ individuals aged 45 years or older.

About our research 

Because of the success of antiretroviral therapy, many HIV+ individuals are now reaching their 50s and 60s. There has been some suggestion that long-term HIV infection may be associated with developing degenerative brain diseases such as dementia.

In conjunction with St Vincent's Hospital and the University of New South Wales, NeuRA's Dr Lucette Cyscique and Prof Lindy Rae are conducting a study to estimate the prevalence of memory and concentration difficulties in older individuals with long-term HIV infection.

We are also determining the means by (if any) which long-term HIV infection contributes to the incidence of an illness like Alzheimer’s disease.

The study will pay particular attention to high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease, as both are common in older people with HIV (as a result of advancing age, HIV disease itself and antiretroviral treatment) and are risk factors for developing dementia.

The study will use a number of tests to look for evidence of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, and to rule out causes of cognitive decline other than HIV (such as cardiovascular disease or a genetic propensity towards developing the disease).

These tests include:

  • neuropsychological tests to investigate the clinical patterns of cognitive decline;
  • MRI to look for patterns of brain atrophy
  • diffusion tensor imaging to look for changes in white matter
  • PIB-PET to look for beta amyloid protein in the brain (indicative of Alzheimer's disease)
  • genetic tests to look for genes known to influence the development of Alzheimer's disease, such as Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) and Tumor Necrosis factor (TNF)
  • a number of other tests to look for biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease, HIV disease and cardiovascular disease.

We are currently recruiting HIV- men over 45 years to participate in the study. Please contact Dr Lucette Cysique via email: or on 0431 576 710 for more information.