Does the informal caregiver notice HIV associated mild cognitive impairment in people living with HIV?



Publication Details

Murray, K. J., Cummins, D., Batterham, M., Trotter, G., Healey, L. & O'Connor, C. C. (2016). Does the informal caregiver notice HIV associated mild cognitive impairment in people living with HIV?. AIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV, 28 (2), 221-227.


HIV associated minor neurocognitive disorder (MND) may be difficult to identify as key signs and symptoms (S & S) may be due to other clinical conditions. Using a self-assessment booklet "HIV and associated MND" we recruited 123 people living with HIV (PLHIV) from three sites: two hospital HIV clinics and a sexual health clinic in Sydney, Australia. Patients may down play S & S. Caregivers may notice subtle changes. By including caregivers, we aimed to find whether the caregivers noticed S & S undetected by the PLHIV. This is a sub-study of a prospective observational multi-site study aimed to validate the usefulness of a patient self-assessment tool (HIV-associated MND booklet). Using the booklet, participants and their caregivers subsequently identified S & S of MND. Sixty-four per cent (79) did not nominate a caregiver to be contacted. Participants from 2 sites 44 (36%) nominated caregivers to be contacted. Twenty-five caregivers identified more than four S & S of MND. S & S reported most by caregivers related to participants being more tired at the end of the day (76%). Participants agreed (77%). Participants also reported that they found it more difficult to remember things such as taking medications or attending medical appointments (67%). The most agreed on symptom was the requirement for increased concentration to get the same things done (Kappa P 0.599 <0.001 and McNemar 0.289). For each question at least one caregiver identified a symptom when the PLHIV did not. Caregivers were more likely than participants to report irritability and communication difficulties. It is important to include caregivers when investigating PLHIV for MND, as caregivers may validate the experience of the patient, and may also be uniquely placed to identify S & S not otherwise identified.

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