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Coping with HIV/AIDS: AIDS Dementia

for Veterans and the Public

HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND)

HIV/AIDS and some medications for treating HIV may affect your brain. When HIV itself infects the brain, it sometimes can cause problems with thinking, emotions, and movement. Symptoms of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) can include the following:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Sudden shifts in mood or behavior
  • Muscle weakness
  • Clumsiness

If you think you may have HAND:

  • Don't be afraid to tell your VA health care provider that you think something is wrong.
  • Keep a notepad with you and write down your symptoms whenever they occur. This information can help your doctor to help you.
  • Build as much support as possible, including friends, family, and health care providers. Although it's possible to treat HAND successfully, it may take a while for some symptoms to go away.

For additional information, see the Cognitive Symptoms and HIV Fact Sheet, which you can bring with you to your health care appointment.