Effective combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has lead to a significant reduction in the prevalence and incidence of central nervous system (CNS) HIV-associated brain disease, particularly CNS opportunistic infections and HIV encephalitis. Despite this, cognitive deficits in people living with HIV, also known as HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) have become more prevalent in recent years. The pathogenesis of HAND is likely to be multifactorial, however recent evidence suggests that brain microglial activation is the most likely pathogenic mechanism. Recent developments in positron emission tomography (PET) brain neuroimaging using novel brain radioligands targeting a variety of physiological changes in the brains of HIV-positive individuals have improved our understanding of the mechanisms associated with the development of HAND. This review will highlight recent PET brain neuroimaging studies in the cART era, focusing on physiological and neurochemical changes associated with HAND in people living with HIV.
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