The interrelationships of patterns of change and variability between baseline and after 6 months of anti-retroviral therapy in neurocognitive, brain imaging, and immune measures were studied in 77 children with symptomatic HIV disease. Overall improvement in CNS structure/function after 6 months of anti-retroviral therapy was limited; new intracerebral calcifications tended to occur and old ones tended to progress in young children with vertically acquired HIV infection, despite treatment. Substantial inter-individual differences in change were however observed. Factors which explained part of the variance in the magnitude and direction of change were baseline structural and functional abnormalities, rating of degree of CNS penetration of the drug protocol, and concurrent changes on other variables. These preliminary data suggest that CNS specific effects of therapies as well as pretreatment status of CNS function/structure need to be taken into consideration when evaluating future trials of anti-retroviral therapy for children with symptomatic HIV infection.
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