PLoS ONE (2016-01-01)

Validation of the International HIV Dementia Scale as a Screening Tool for HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders in a German-Speaking HIV Outpatient Clinic.

  • Victor Marin-Webb,
  • Heiko Jessen,
  • Ute Kopp,
  • Arne B Jessen,
  • Katrin Hahn

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 12
p. e0168225


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HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are widely present among people living with HIV. Especially its milder forms, asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment (ANI) and mild neurocognitive disorder (MND), remain highly prevalent worldwide. Diagnosing these conditions is subject to a time and resource consuming neuropsychological assessment. Selecting patients at a higher risk of cognitive impairment by using a simple but effective screening tool helps to organise access to further neuropsychological diagnosis. The International HIV Dementia Scale (IHDS) has until now been a well-established screening tool in African and American countries, however these populations' demographics defer significantly from ours, so using the same parameters could be ineffective.To calculate the prevalence of this condition among people attending an HIV outpatient clinic in Berlin and to validate the use of the IHDS as a screening tool for HAND in a German-speaking population.We screened 480 HIV-infected patients using the IHDS, 89% of them were on a stable antiretroviral treatment. Ninety of them completed a standardised neuropsychological battery of tests and a specific cognitive complaints questionnaire. The same procedure was applied to a control group of 30 HIV-negative participants. HAND diagnosis was established according to the Frascati criteria.The overall prevalence of HAND in our cohort was 43% (20% ANI, 17% MND and 6% HIV-associated dementia). The optimal cut-off on the IHDS for detecting HAND cases was set at 11 and achieved both a sensitivity and a specificity of 80%. When specifically screening for the more severe form of HAND, HIV-associated dementia, a cut-off value of 10 offered an increase in both sensitivity (94%) and specificity (86%). The Youden Index for diagnostic accuracy was 0.6 and 0.8, respectively.The prevalence of HAND was comparable to the reported by recent studies performed in countries with a similar economic development. The study confirms the IHDS to be a useful HAND screening tool in primary care settings and establishes new recommendations for its use in German-speaking countries.