Class-Based Antiretroviral Exposure and Cognition Among Women Living with HIV

Amanda Blair Spence, Chenglong Liu, Leah Rubin, Bradley Aouizerat, David Eugene Vance, Hector Bolivar, Cecile Delille Lahiri, Adaora A. Adimora, Kathleen Weber, Deborah Gustafson, Oluwakemi Sosanya, Raymond Scott Turner, Seble Kassaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurologic complications of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are common in treated individuals, and toxicity of certain antiretroviral therapies (ART) may contribute to cognitive impairment. We investigated exposures to specific ART and cognition among women living with HIV (WLWH). Virologically suppressed (viral load <200 copies/mL during at least two semi-annual visits) WLWH and age/race matched HIV-seronegative controls enrolled in the Women's Interagency HIV Study who completed at least two biennial cognitive assessments were included. Analysis of WLWH was restricted to those with exposure to the drug class of interest and a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) backbone. Generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate repeated measures of cognition over time in association with ART class exposure. Among 1,242 eligible WLWH, 20% (n = 247) had isolated drug exposure to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI), 18% (n = 219) to protease inhibitors (PIs), and 6% (n = 79) to integrase inhibitors with a NRTI backbone. Cognitive assessments were performed at a median of 3 biennial visits {IQR 2-4 visits}. At the index assessment, 21% of WLWH demonstrated global cognitive impairment versus 29% at their last cognitive assessment. In multivariable analyses adjusted for hypertension, depression, diabetes mellitus, history of AIDS-defining illness, alcohol use, number of medications, and time on ART, WLWH exposed to NNRTIs demonstrated verbal learning improvements (mean T-score change 1.3, p = .020) compared to other treated women. Compared to HIV-seronegative women, WLWH exposed to PIs had worse verbal learning (mean T-score difference -2.62, p = .002) and verbal memory performance (mean T-score difference -1.74, p = .032) at baseline. Compared to HIV-seronegative women, WLWH exposed to PIs had improvements in verbal learning (mean T-score slope difference 0.36, p = .025) and verbal memory (mean T-score slope difference 0.32, p = .042). The index T-score and slope of change in the T-score were similar among other treated groups and the HIV-seronegative group. We noted emerging trends in cognition in WLWH exposed to specific drug classes. Ongoing study of this relatively young group is important to characterize long-term cognitive outcomes and effect of antiretrovirals as treatment guidelines evolve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-570
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • HIV and aging
  • antiretroviral therapy
  • antiretroviral toxicity
  • cognitive impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology
  • Immunology


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