Relationships between Viral Load, Neuroimaging, and NP in Persons Living with HIV

Sarah A. Cooley, Jaimie Navid, Julie K. Wisch, Anna Boerwinkle, John Doyle, Robert H. Paul, Beau M. Ances

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: This study examined whether recommended viral load (VL) classifications by the Department of Health and Human Services map onto changes in brain integrity observed in people living with HIV (PLWH).Methods: Three hundred forty-nine PLWH on combination antiretroviral therapy meeting criteria for virologic suppression (VS) (VL ≤ 20 copies/mL; n = 206), "low-level viremia"(20-200 copies/mL; n = 63), or virologic failure (VF) (>200 copies/mL; n = 80) and 195 demographically similar HIV-negative controls were compared for cognition and brain volumes from 10 regions of interest that are sensitive to HIV. Changes in cognition and brain volumes were examined in a subset of PLWH (n = 132) who completed a follow-up evaluation (mean interval = 28 months) and had no change in treatment regimen.Results: Significant differences in cognition and brain volumes were observed between the HIV-negative control and VS groups compared with those in the VF groups, with few differences observed between the 3 PLWH subgroups. Longitudinally, PLWH who continued to have VF exhibited a greater decline in cognition and brain volumes compared with PLWH who remained with VS. Observed longitudinal changes in cognition correlated with brain volume changes.Conclusion: PLWH with continued VF (consecutive VL measurements of >200 copies/mL) represent a cause for clinical concern and may benefit from change in treatment in addition to consideration of other potential etiologies of VF to reduce loss of brain integrity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)985-992
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • cognition
  • neuroimaging
  • viral load


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