HIV is a viral infection that causes AIDS and results in a deficient immune system. Immune deficiency is associated with its own direct symptoms, but also can result in complicating infections, malignancies and serious treatment side effects. Many of these infections and side effects can be neurological, such as dementia, peripheral neuropathies from treatment toxicity, spinal cord disorders and myelopathy.
The physicians treating AIDS patients are experts on infections of the central nervous system, including AIDS and opportunistic infections as a result of having AIDS. Our physicians are supported by the latest research efforts into treating AIDS, specifically through our Neurologic AIDS Research Consortium (NARC) and the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (ACTU).
Neurologic AIDS Research Consortium (NARC)
NARC is supported by the National Institutes of Health to design and conduct clinical trials for improving therapies available to AIDS patients with neurologic conditions. David B. Clifford, MD, established the consortium and is the principal investigator for studies.
The impact of the new generation of antiretroviral drugs, and the impact of taking many medications at the same time has resulted in fewer and less severe complications. However, several of the key new drugs fail to penetrate the brain, making it possible that the incidence of neurologic disease may continue to increase. More than half of HIV patients in care remain cognitively impaired on testing.
NARC is one of three centers conducting a randomized trial to assess the importance of selecting HIV therapies based on brain penetration. As new challenges arise in the fight against the AIDS epidemic, NARC will continue to develop relevant studies.
AIDS Clinical Trials Unit (ACTU)
Active AIDS clinical trials also are going on within the Department of Internal Medicine Infectious Diseases Division under the umbrella of the AIDS Clinical Trials Unit. Patients may self-refer to the AIDS unit, which also gets referrals from doctors around the country.
For a referral to a Washington University neurologist or neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.