How is HIV infection differentiated from schizophrenia?

Updated: Mar 16, 2018
  • Author: Frances R Frankenburg, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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HIV penetrates the blood-brain barrier early in the course of the infection and thus can cause a number of mental status changes, particularly dementia or other neuropsychological impairment. In addition, patients infected with HIV are at risk for opportunistic infections, such as neurosyphilis, toxoplasmosis, cryptococcal meningitis, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, cytomegalovirus encephalopathy, and tuberculous meningitis, all of which can lead to mental status changes.

Persons infected with HIV are also at risk for primary central nervous system lymphoma. Many medications used to treat HIV may cause mental status changes. Finally, persons infected with HIV are at risk for nutritional deficiencies that also contribute to mental status changes.

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