The HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders in Zambia (HANDZ) Study: Protocol of a research program in pediatric HIV in sub-Saharan Africa
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Approximately 10% of youth in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. In Zambia, it is estimated that over 72,000 children have HIV infection, and despite access to combination antiretroviral therapy, many will experience HIV-associated neurocognitive deficits (HAND) encompassing cognitive and psychiatric sequelae such as global intellectual delay, executive dysfunction, and depressed mood. However, little is known about the neurocognitive profile of such children, the long-term outcomes and impacts of HAND, or the predictors and risk factors for HAND-related impairment. We have initiated the first-ever prospective, longitudinal study of neurocognition in children with HIV-infection in Zambia. Our overarching study goals are to validate cognitive and psychiatric testing tools in children with HIV infection in Zambia, and to determine if inflammatory biomarkers and brain imaging can prospectively identify children at high risk of developing HAND. This article outlines the study methods, highlights several challenges encountered in the initiation of the study, and offers solutions to these challenges.
CitationAdams HR, Mwanza-Kabaghe S, Mbewe EG, et al. The HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders in Zambia (HANDZ) study: protocol of a research program in pediatric HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. medRxiv. 2019:19003590.