AIDS is primarily an immune system disorder but it can also affect the nervous system and lead to serious neurological problems. AIDS develops in the most advanced stages of the HIV infection. In some cases, it could take up to ten years for AIDS to develop after being infected with HIV.

You may not feel any effects after you have been infected with the HIV virus. You may feel achy, feel feverish, and just feel bad, but it often is blamed on the common cold or the flu.

Nerve Cell Health

Although AIDS does not invade the nerve cells it can jeopardize the nerve cells health and performance. Inflammation can occur in the brain and the spinal cord. This can cause behavioral changes, forgetfulness, weakness, and severe headaches.

It can also cause confusion and loss of sensation in the extremities. Researchers have proved that AIDS or HIV infection can make a difference in how the brain processes information and learns new things.

Other severe neurological problems that can affect an AIDS patient is seizures, shingles, lack of coordination, and difficulty in walking. Other serious complications include depression, anxiety, fever, and the virus destroys vision and the loss of brain tissue. The patient may fall into a coma. These symptoms will get progressively worse as the disease develops.

Neurological Complications

Neurological complications affect over 40 percent of AIDS patients. They can develop no matter what the age of the patient, but affects children faster than adults. Children may have a loss of previously known skills, confusion, and delays in development and may other serious problems. They may experience bacterial infections more often than normal, have a slower growth rate, and have recurring eye problems.

What causes these neurological problems and complications in AIDS patients? The HIV virus causes many, some cancers and other infections that would not normally affect healthy individuals cause others. Sometimes it is the drugs that are given to treat AIDS that causes serious neurological problems.

Opportunistic infections caused by bacteria, fungi and other simple viruses can cause trouble with concentration, memory, and problems with attention span. The HIV virus may indirectly cause other neurological problems.


ADC, or AIDS dementia complex usually occurs in patients with the advanced form of HIV infection. The symptoms of ADC include inflammation of the brain or encephalitis. This can cause a severe decline in brain function including lack of concentration, memory problems, and a slow loss of motor function.

Also affected is coordination and the ability to move freely. If this neurological problem is left untreated, it is often fatal.

Neurological problems make it more urgent that you receive treatment for the HIV infection as soon as possible. If you know you are at risk, you have unprotected sex with someone who is infected, or you have used drug paraphernalia that is not sterile, its important you have regular screening for the HIV virus. Early detection will help you get the treatment you need and possibly prevent you from developing these and other serious neurological problems.

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