This analysis involves 22 patients with diagnosed symptomatic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Neurologic symptoms were present in 11 patients, ranging from severe and persistent headache to clinical signs suggestive of meningitis. A strong correlation between neurological symptoms and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) viral load was found. The mean CSF HIV ribonucleic acid (RNA) level was 4.12 log for patients with neurological symptoms and 2.58 log for patients without neurological symptoms (P <.00001). Plasma viral load alone does not correlate or predict central nervous system (CNS) involvement. In our sample of patients, HIV RNA levels could be detected in most patients regardless of the presence of neurological symptoms. Moreover, early treatment including drugs with high levels of penetration in the CNS must be considered for patients with primary HIV infection.
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