HealthDay News — The first case of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) diagnosed in a person with HIV suggests progressive dementia in older HIV+ individuals may be due to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND), AD, or both. The case study was published online April 14 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.

The patient – a 71-year-old man – was diagnosed after a medical scan revealed amyloid deposition in his brain. Until now, it was believed that HIV-related inflammation in the brain might prevent the formation of such deposition and thereby protect these patients from Alzheimer’s.

“HIV infection does not preclude central nervous system Aβ/amyloid deposition,” the authors write. “Amyloid positron emission tomography imaging may be of value in distinguishing HAND from AD pathologies.”

“This patient may be a sentinel case that disputes what we thought we knew about dementia in HIV-positive individuals,” study author R. Scott Turner, MD, of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said in a university news release. The case also suggests that some older patients with HIV and dementia may be misdiagnosed with HIV-associated brain disorders, but actually have Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also possible that some older patients with HIV have both HIV-associated brain disorders and Alzheimer’s, according to Turner.

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