‘Scenario has brightened with the wide availability of drugs'

“HIV/AIDS has reached the status of being called a chronic disease from a rare disease. But people need not fear, as there are ample number of drugs to treat the infected and the lifespan can be increased to a good number of years,” said the Director and Vice-Chancellor of NIMHANS- Bangalore P. Satishchandra.

He was here on Saturday to deliver the endowment lecture on ‘Neuro AIDS in India-what have we learnt'. The lecture was organised by the Department of Neurology of Andhra Medical College.

In his lucid presentation, he pointed out that apart from the opportunistic infections, the HIV virus also affects the brain.

“The effect is about 10 per cent during the initial manifestation, 40 per cent during the middle stages and it reaches about 90 per cent during the terminal stage. But all through the effect can be treated and minimised to a great extent by administrating HAART (high value antiretroviral therapy),” he said.

Prof. Satishchandra said that the neurological illness such as tuberculosis meningitis and cryptococcal meningitis are common among the PLHA (people living with HIV/AIDS).

“For the PLHA, the dementia effects are more in the western countries and relatively less in India. Keeping this in mind, we were told to conduct a research by the National Institute of Health of US. Our findings revealed that the virus strain in the US and other European countries differed from the strain found in India. In the west HIV- B is prevalent, whereas here it is HIV- C. And that is why the dementia factor is more in the western world,” he said.

He urged the doctors present to treat the opportunistic infections first before administering the HAART. “In most cases it is seen that the doctors tend to give ARV drugs as soon as the CD4 count drops.

In such cases the CD4 count improves but the patient does not recover from the infections,” he said.

Talking of general neurological health, Prof. Satishchandra said that all neurological problems arise due to the lifestyle changes. “Keep away from cigarettes, alcohol and fatty food. Exercise regularly and keep your diabetes, obesity and blood pressure under check by following a healthy lifestyle,” he advised.

The Principal of AMC Dr. G. Bhagya Rao, Vice-Principal Dr. K. Venkateswarlu, Superintendent of KGH Dr. G. Santa Rao and Professor of Neuro Surgery Dr. Vishnu Prasad and other senior doctors were present.

  • The virus strain in the US differs from that found in India

  • All neurological problems arise due to the lifestyle changes: expert