Researchers have found AIDS-related dementia (mental disorder) in 31% of HIV patients in Uganda and described it as an alarmingly high rate.
â€œIf the rate we saw in our study translates across sub-Saharan Africa, we are looking at more than eight million people in this region with HIV dementia,â€ said Dr Ned Sacktor, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
â€œThis study sends a clear message that dementia exists in high proportions in sub-Saharan Africa and is an under-recognised condition that needs to be studied and treated.â€
Doctors know that the AIDS virus can cause dementia by destroying brain cells. AIDS drug combinations greatly reduce this rate, but only 20% of people infected with HIV in the world get the drugs.
Writing in the journal Neurology, Sacktor and colleagues said they studied 178 people in Uganda, from September 2003 to January 2004. They said 100 were normal, healthy adults and 78 had the AIDS virus. About 31% of the HIV patients had dementia.
Giving people ARVs can reverse the damage, Sacktor said. Without it, the numbers of patients could grow, the researchers said.
HIV mental problem high in Uganda