Previous studies have identified cognitive impairments due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in adults. However, few studies have examined the impact of HIV on cognition in young adults (18–24 years old). Yet, this group is one of the largest populations of individuals with new HIV infection. Young adulthood is also an important developmental window because the brain has not fully matured and individuals are prone to engage in risky behavior. The purpose of the present study was to examine the impact of HIV on neurocognition and risky behaviors. We hypothesized that HIV+ young adults (n = 23) would exhibit greater cognitive impairment and risky behaviors compared to seronegative controls (n = 21). In addition, we predicted that self-reported risky behavior as assessed by the Risk Assessment Battery (RAB) would covary with cognitive performances. Results revealed poorer executive function in HIV+ young adults compared to seronegative (HIV−) controls. HIV+ young adults exhibited significantly greater risk scores on the RAB (p < 0.01) compared to HIV− young adults. However, there were no relationships between risky behavior and cognitive performance. Overall, our results suggest that HIV is associated with poorer cognition and increased risky behaviors in young adults.
- Executive function
- Risky behavior