The 2021 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) featured a timely review of the neurologic complications of COVID-19 as well as new research findings on mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 may affect the brain. CROI included new and important findings about the neurologic complications of HIV-1, human polyomavirus 2 (also known as JC Virus), and cryptococcus. New long-term analyses of cognition in people with HIV-1 identified that cognitive decline over time is associated with multimorbidity, particularly diabetes, chronic lung disease, and vascular disease risk conditions. These conditions are associated with aging, and the question of whether people with HIV are at risk for premature aging was addressed by several reports. New findings from large analyses of resting state networks also provided valuable information on the structural and functional networks that are affected by HIV-1 infection and cognitive impairment. Several reports addressed changes after initiating or switching antiretroviral therapy (ART). Findings that will improve understanding of the biologic mechanisms of brain injury in people with HIV were also presented and included evidence that host (eg, myeloid activation, inflammation, and endothelial activation) and viral (eg, transcriptional activity and compartmentalization) factors adversely affect brain health. Other research focused on adjunctive therapies to treat HIV-1 and its complications in the central nervous system. This summary will review these and other findings in greater detail and identify key gaps and opportunities for researchers and clinicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-343
Number of pages10
JournalTopics in antiviral medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • CROI 2021
  • CSF
  • HIV
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • aging
  • brain
  • cognition
  • neuroimaging
  • neurologic complications
  • neurotoxicity


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