Doctors have long thought the brain damage and memory loss longterm survivors of HIV suffer was caused by the disease. Johns Hopkins scientists now believe a large cause is the anti-retroviral drug efavirenz, which attacks and damages brain cells.
Norman J. Haughey, Ph.D., lead researcher and an associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine , said in a release that the research is further evidence of the health problems drugs to treat HIV can cause.
"Some people do seem to have this attitude that HIV is no longer a death sentence," Haughey said in a release. "But even with anti-retroviral treatments, people with HIV have shortened lifespans and the chance of cognitive decline is high. It's nothing you should treat lightly."