Cognitive and affective disorders associated to HIV infection in the HAART era: findings from the NeuroICONA study

Cognitive impairment and depression in HIV/AIDS. The NeuroICONA study


Dr Fabrizio Starace Consultation Psychiatry & Behavioural Epidemiology Unit, Cotugno Hospital, Via Quagliariello, 54 80131 Napoli E-mail:


Objective: To assess the natural story of HIV-associated affective and cognitive disorders and the relationship with clinical, pharmacological, immunological and behavioural factors.

Method: A total of 395 HIV-positive patients, naive to Highly Active Antirectroviral therapy (HAART), with no severe psychiatric disorders have been enrolled in the Neuro-ICONA Study. All participants were administered a comprehensive data collection instrument including an addiction behaviour survey, a medical problem list, a psychiatric assessment, a validated neuropsychological test battery.

Results: The global prevalence of cognitive impairment and of prominent depressive symptomatology were 17.9 and 15.5%, respectively. A significant difference in the prevalence of prominent depressive symptomatology was observed between patients in HAART and those not taking HAART(14.1 vs. 23.8%; P=0.05).

Conclusion: Depressive and cognitive disorders affect a substantial proportion of HIV-seropositive subjects. The prevalence of prominent depressive symptomatology appears to significantly vary in relationship to the therapeutic protocol.