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Papers of the Week

Papers: 20 Mar 2021 - 26 Mar 2021


Human Studies

2021 Mar 19


Chronic pain and cognitive impairment: a cross-sectional study in people living with HIV.


Kemp HI, Kennedy DL, Vollert J, Davies N W, Scott W, Rice ASC
AIDS Care. 2021 Mar 19:1-14.
PMID: 33739206.


Cognitive impairment and chronic pain are amongst the most prevalent neurological sequelae of HIV infection, yet little is understood about the potential bidirectional relationship between the two conditions. Cognitive dysfunction can occur in chronic pain populations whilst those with cognitive impairment can display modified responses to experimentally induced painful stimuli. To date, this has not been explored in HIV cohorts.This study aimed to identify any contribution of chronic pain to cognitive impairment in HIV and to determine differences in pain characteristics between those with and without cognitive dysfunction.This was an observational cohort study involving people living with HIV ( = 148) in the United Kingdom. Participants underwent validated questionnaire-based measurement of pain severity, interference and symptom quality as well as conditioned pain modulation and quantitative sensory testing. All participants completed a computer-based cognitive function assessment.Fifty-seven participants met the criteria for cognitive impairment and 73 for chronic pain. The cognitive impairment group had a higher prevalence of chronic pain ( = 0.004) and reported more neuropathic symptoms ( = 0.001). Those with chronic pain performed less well in emotional recognition and verbal learning domains. The interaction identified between chronic pain and cognitive dysfunction warrants further exploration to identify causal links or shared pathology.