PsychCentral reported on a study of cognitive function in menopausal women with HIV. Pauline M. Maki, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago and colleagues reviewed data on 708 HIV-infected and 278 HIV-uninfected midlife women from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study, a national study of women with HIV at six sites in the United States (Chicago, Bronx, Brooklyn, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC). The participants underwent mental skills testing.
Findings showed that menopausal symptoms increased anxiety in mid-life HIV-positive women, leading to a disruption of thinking skills. Mental processing and verbal memory were more related to depression, anxiety, and hot flashes in both HIV-positive and -negative women than the stage of menopause. Hot flashes correlated with slightly lower mental processing speed, a skill that is also affected by HIV infection. Depression connected with decreased verbal memory, processing speed, and executive function. Anxiety had the greatest impact on thinking skills and the impact was greater with HIV-positive participants.
Maki noted that healthcare providers can treat certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, depression, and anxiety, which increase cognitive vulnerabilities, and advocated treatment for these conditions to help improve quality of life for HIV-positive menopausal women.
The full report, “Investigation of Menopausal Stage and Symptoms on Cognition in Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Women,” was published online ahead of print in the journal Menopause (2014; doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000203).