The expression of cognitive symptoms associated with HIV varies over time and across individuals. This pattern may reflect transient contextual factors, including the degree of effort exerted by individuals undergoing cognitive testing. The present study examined whether effort corresponds to the expression of persistent HIV-related cognitive impairment among individuals receiving combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). HIV+ individuals (n = 111) averaged 48.2 (14.9) years of age and 13.0 (2.7) years of education and HIV− individuals (n = 92) averaged 34.9 (17.2) years of age and 13.5 (1.9) years of education. Participants completed a neuropsychological battery and a clinically validated measure of effort (Test of Memory Malingering, trial 1). Results revealed that the vast majority of HIV+ (85%) and HIV− (89%) individuals performed above published guidelines for adequate effort. Furthermore, the expression of cognitive impairment in HIV was not related to effort performance. The results were unchanged when examining HIV+ individuals with and without viral suppression. Finally, disability and disability-seeking status, and a proxy measure of apathy did not correspond to effort levels in HIV+ individuals. These findings suggest that variability in the expression of cognitive impairment in the cART era is unlikely to represent overt effort failures or other confounds unrelated to the disease. Persistent cognitive impairment in HIV likely represents historical and/or ongoing disease mechanisms despite otherwise successful treatment.
- Neuropsychological performance
- Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM)