Neuropsychologic Impairment in Early HIV Infection: A Risk Factor for Work Disability

Albert, Steven M.; Marder, Karen; Dooneief, George; Bell, Karen L.; Sano, Mary; Todak, George; Stern, Yaakov

Objective: To explore the functional significance of incident neuropsychologic impairment among initially asymptomatic subjects infected with human immunodeficiency virus. Design: Prospective, observational cohort study of homosexual and bisexual men to examine the incidence of work disability related to the onset of neuropsychologic impairment. Setting: A university clinical and behavioral research site in New York City. Participants: Sample of 207 homosexual and bisexual men; 123 were seropositive and 84 were seronegative. Principal Outcome Measures: Incident work disability in the course of 4.5 years of follow-up, with disability defined as a persistent (≥24 months) change in work hours (from 20 or more to less than 20 h/wk). Results: Compared with seronegative control subjects (n=72), the relative risk of work disability among initially asymptomatic seropositive men (n=44) was 2.76 (95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 6.5), nearly a threefold increase. Proportional hazards models show that this increased risk is attributable to the development of major neuropsychologic impairment in a subset (eight of 44) of the initially asymptomatic men, which is significantly associated with incident work disability (6/8 [75%]). Adjusting for symptom status and CD4+ cell count at the time of disability did not eliminate the increased risk associated with neuropsychologic impairment. Conclusions: In this cohort, the increased risk of work disability among initially asymptomatic human immunodeficiency virus—positive men was related to incident neuropsychologic impairment; such impairment predicted work disability independently of symptom status and CD4+ cell count over the follow-up period. Neuropsychologic impairment in the course of human immunodeficiency virus infection may indicate increased risk for poor outcomes over and above that associated with systemic disease.


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February 14, 2018