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1.  Central nervous system antiretroviral efficacy in HIV infection: a qualitative and quantitative review and implications for future research 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:148.
Background
There is conflicting information as to whether antiretroviral drugs with better central nervous system (CNS) penetration (neuroHAART) assist in improving neurocognitive function and suppressing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) HIV RNA. The current review aims to better synthesise existing literature by using an innovative two-phase review approach (qualitative and quantitative) to overcome methodological differences between studies.
Methods
Sixteen studies, all observational, were identified using a standard citation search. They fulfilled the following inclusion criteria: conducted in the HAART era; sample size > 10; treatment effect involved more than one antiretroviral and none had a retrospective design. The qualitative phase of review of these studies consisted of (i) a blind assessment rating studies on features such as sample size, statistical methods and definitions of neuroHAART, and (ii) a non-blind assessment of the sensitivity of the neuropsychological methods to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND). During quantitative evaluation we assessed the statistical power of studies, which achieved a high rating in the qualitative analysis. The objective of the power analysis was to determine the studies ability to assess their proposed research aims.
Results
After studies with at least three limitations were excluded in the qualitative phase, six studies remained. All six found a positive effect of neuroHAART on neurocognitive function or CSF HIV suppression. Of these six studies, only two had statistical power of at least 80%.
Conclusions
Studies assessed as using more rigorous methods found that neuroHAART was effective in improving neurocognitive function and decreasing CSF viral load, but only two of those studies were adequately statistically powered. Because all of these studies were observational, they represent a less compelling evidence base than randomised control trials for assessing treatment effect. Therefore, large randomised trials are needed to determine the robustness of any neuroHAART effect. However, such trials must be longitudinal, include the full spectrum of HAND, ideally carefully control for co-morbidities, and be based on optimal neuropsychology methods.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-148
PMCID: PMC3252248  PMID: 22107790
2.  HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in sub-Saharan Africa: a pilot study in Cameroon 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:60.
Background
The disease burden of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is highest in sub-Saharan Africa but there are few studies on the associated neurocognitive disorders in this region. The objectives of this study were to determine whether Western neuropsychological (NP) methods are appropriate for use in Cameroon, and to evaluate cognitive function in a sample of HIV-infected adults.
Methods
We used a battery of 19 NP measures in a cross-sectional study with 44 HIV+ adults and 44 demographically matched HIV- controls, to explore the validity of these NP measures in Cameroon, and evaluate the effect of viral infection on seven cognitive ability domains.
Results
In this pilot study, the global mean z-score on the NP battery showed worse overall cognition in the HIV+ individuals. Significantly lower performance was seen in the HIV+ sample on tests of executive function, speed of information processing, working memory, and psychomotor speed. HIV+ participants with AIDS performed worse than those with less advanced HIV disease.
Conclusions
Similar to findings in Western cohorts, our results in Cameroon suggest that HIV infection, particularly in advanced stages, is associated with worse performance on standardized, Western neurocognitive tests. The tests used here appear to be promising for studying NeuroAIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-60
PMCID: PMC2912842  PMID: 20626870
3.  Valproic acid is associated with cognitive decline in HIV-infected individuals: a clinical observational study 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:42.
Background
Valproic acid (VPA) is often used to control pain in HIV-related neuropathy. However, the effect of VPA on cognitive functions in advanced HIV-infected individuals is largely unknown. A recent study would suggest that it may have a neuroprotective effect, the doses used were low and the observation period short.
Methods
We used a well studied HIV-infected cohort assessed for a median of 15 (range 6–27 months) to determine whether individuals who were receiving VPA showed any cognitive benefits. Multiple regression procedures allowed us to control for the effects of HAART and HIV disease status as well as numbers of visits and variation in VPA intake over-time.
Results
We found a negative effect of VPA (mean dose of 850 mg/d for 18 months on average; range 6–27 months) on cognitive performance in eight advanced HIV-infected individuals compared to 32 advanced HIV-infected individuals on no VPA who had comparable neuropsychological performance at baseline. Control for plasma HIV viral load provided similar results.
Conclusion
Our results suggest that further studies of VPA in advanced HIV-infection should cautiously include high doses over prolonged periods of at least 18 months in order to more accurately determine whether the posited neuroprotective benefit of VPA still occurs or whether it is replaced by toxicity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-42
PMCID: PMC1702364  PMID: 17150108

Results 1-3 (3)