icon-folder.gif   Conference Reports for NATAP  
  13th International Workshop on
HIV and Aging
13-14 October 2022

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Social support network factors linked to
neuropsychological-verbal performance among
disadvantaged persons living with HIV who use drugs

  Aging Workshop Oct 14-15 2022
Reported by Jules Levin
Knowlton A,1 Mitchell M,2 Tseng TY, Clair C,1 Rubin L2
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2 Friends Research Institute, 3Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Sponsored by R01 NR014050 & 1P30 AI094189
Verbal Fluency & Cognitive Impairment in
Mostly Black IDUs in Baltimore results in
Lack of Support Needs Being Met


Cognitive impairment has been linked to HIV and to reduced social support and isolation. Disadvantaged persons living with HIV (PLHIV) who use drugs are at especially high risk of cognitive impairment and challenges accessing quality support of family and friends in later life. We sought to identify social network factors associated with neuropsychological test performance of a high-risk group to further an understanding of unmet needs for community support among PLHIV with impaired cognitive function. Materials and methods: Former or current injection drug using PLHIV enrolled in the BEACON study (n=383) completed the Controlled Oral Word Association test (COWAT) of verbal fluency and a social support network inventory. Latent class analysis with count variables was used to determine the number of distinct classes of PLHIV based on their social network characteristics.
Results: The majority of PLHIV were male
(61.4%), African American (85.9%), and had a high school education or less (83.8%). Standardized COWAT scores (T-scores) were approximately normally distributed with a range of 18.8 to 75.6, a mean of 46.9, and a standard deviation of 9.3.
Fewer support network members (β = 6.25, p < 0.01), greater frequency of negative interactions with support network members (β = 6.67, p < 0.01), and less frequent positive interactions with network members (β = -6.67, p < 0.05) were significantly associated with lower COWAT scores.
Conclusions: Given high rates of cognitive impairment among PLHIV, comprehensive screening of high-risk PLHIV and early intervention is important for addressing the social support needs for those with impaired function. The findings suggest the importance of interpersonal and network-level intervention for cognitively impaired PLHIV to ensure optimal quality and functioning of community support structures and avert potential social isolation.