The connection between infection, lipid metabolism and metabolic complications expands beyond cardiovascular diseases. Lipid metabolism also plays an important role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. We have found striking similarities in the impairment of cholesterol metabolism caused by HIV and by prions — the latter is an established cause of neurodegeneration. HIV-associated dementia develops in 50 per cent of HIV-infected patients even when treatment of HIV is successful. The pathogenesis of HIV-associated dementia is unknown.
We are examining a new hypothesis which explains all known pathological and clinical features of HIV-associated dementia and proposes a new treatment for this condition.