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Background: People living with HIV are at risk of developing HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) which adversely affects their quality of life. Routine screening of HAND in HIV care is recommended to identify clinically important changes in cognitive functioning and allow for early interventions. However, HAND detection in routine clinical practice has never been reported in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), partly due to a lack of adequately standardized screening tools. This review was conducted to identify the commonly used screening tools for HAND in SSA and document their psychometric properties and diagnostic accuracy. Methods: We searched Ovid Medline, PsycINFO and Web of Sciences databases for empirical studies published from 1/1/1980 to 31/8/2018 on HAND among adults living with HIV in SSA. Results: We identified 14 eligible studies, of which 9 were from South Africa. The International HIV Dementia Scale (IHDS) was the most frequently reported tool, being used in more than half of the studies. However most studies only reported the diagnostic accuracy of this and other tools, with specificity ranging from 37% to 81% and sensitivity ranging from 45% to 100%. Appropriate data on construct validity and reliability of tools was rarely documented. Although most tools performed well in screening for severe forms of HAND, they lacked sensitivity and specificity for mild forms of HAND. NeuroScreen, one of the newer tools, yielded good diagnostic accuracy in its initial evaluation in South Africa (81% to 93% sensitivity and 71% to 81% specificity). Conclusions: This review identified a lack of adequately standardized and contextually relevant HAND screening tools in SSA. Most screening tools for HAND used in SSA possess inadequate psychometric properties and diagnostic accuracy. There is a need for further validation of existing tools and development of new HAND screening tools in SSA.

Original publication




Journal article


AAS Open Res

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Adults, HIV, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, Scoping review, Screening tools, sub-Saharan Africa