Be part of a research program into HIV & the Brain

Did you know that HIV can hide in the brains of some people to resist HIV medications?

In some people with HIV the virus can get into the central nervous system (which includes the brain and spinal cord). If a person is successfully treated with HIV medication the virus can retreat into a “latent” state and hide within infected cells to protect itself. While there is no way to definitively eliminate the latent virus at present, HIV researchers are investigating several experimental techniques that aim to “reawaken” the virus from its dormant state where it is vulnerable to HIV medications and the body’s immune defenses. However, reactivating latent HIV in the central nervous system could lead to serious or even fatal complications. It is also difficult for some HIV medications to reach the brain, thereby making it a “sanctuary” of sorts in some people with HIV.

The aim of this study is to examine a variety of HIV biomarkers and work out what combination(s) of these most accurately measures the amount of HIV present in the brain and predicts how HIV in the brain impacts on a person’s daily functioning. This is a critical step towards improving potential future therapies for HIV.

We are looking for people living with HIV who may or may not be experiencing problems with their cognition (thinking skills) and are concerned that they may have HIV residing in their brain. If you are:

  • HIV-positive
  • Aged 18 years and older
  • Have had an undetectable HIV viral load for at least 6 months
  • Have not changed your antiretroviral medication for at least 6 months
  • Have an adequate (high school) level of English literacy
  • Have no other medical conditions that are likely to affect your brain

Then you may be eligible to participate in this study. Participants will need to be available to attend a study visit at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney once every 6 months for a 2 year period.

This study is being conducted by Professor Bruce Brew and the HIV Neurology research group at St Vincent’s Hospital.

For further information about this study, please contact: Jolyon Minshall, HIV Neurology Clinical Trial Coordinator at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney on or (02) 8382 4981.


This study has been approved by the St Vincent’s Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee Ref: HREC/15/SVH/425