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Monday 01 September 1997

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.

By: Bowers M.

BETA 1997 Sep;:23-6

AIDS: HIV can infect brain tissue and can lead to a dementia-related complication called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). PML is a progressive expansion of brain lesions caused by the JC virus, and may involve multiple lesions. A characteristic finding is the degeneration of the white matter of the brain. A London study found that AZT reduced the risk of PML. The disease has been difficult to study; two-thirds of all Americans harbor the JC virus, but very few develop PML. Symptoms include disturbances in movement and coordination, muscular weakness on one side, visual disturbances, aphasia, apraxia, and dementia. Mechanisms of the disease are described. Diagnosis is made via brain biopsy, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, blood or radiologic studies, or during an autopsy. Studies are underway to determine effective treatments. The current outlook for people with PML is improving, largely due to the aggressive antiretroviral treatments now being prescribed.

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