Lessons learned developing a diagnostic tool for HIV-associated dementia feasible to implement in resource-limited settings: Pilot testing in Kenya

Judith Kwasa, Deanna Cettomai, Edwin Lwanya, Dennis Osiemo, Patrick Oyaro, Gretchen L. Birbeck, Richard W. Price, Elizabeth A. Bukusi, Craig R. Cohen, Ana Claire L. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: To conduct a preliminary evaluation of the utility and reliability of a diagnostic tool for HIV-associated dementia (HAD) for use by primary health care workers (HCW) which would be feasible to implement in resource-limited settings. Background: In resource-limited settings, HAD is an indication for anti-retroviral therapy regardless of CD4 T-cell count. Anti-retroviral therapy, the treatment for HAD, is now increasingly available in resource-limited settings. Nonetheless, HAD remains under-diagnosed likely because of limited clinical expertise and availability of diagnostic tests. Thus, a simple diagnostic tool which is practical to implement in resource-limited settings is an urgent need. Methods: A convenience sample of 30 HIV-infected outpatients was enrolled in Western Kenya. We assessed the sensitivity and specificity of a diagnostic tool for HAD as administered by a primary HCW. This was compared to an expert clinical assessment which included examination by a physician, neuropsychological testing, and in selected cases, brain imaging. Agreement between HCW and an expert examiner on certain tool components was measured using Kappa statistic. Results: The sample was 57% male, mean age was 38.6 years, mean CD4 T-cell count was 323 cells/μL, and 54% had less than a secondary school education. Six (20%) of the subjects were diagnosed with HAD by expert clinical assessment. The diagnostic tool was 63% sensitive and 67% specific for HAD. Agreement between HCW and expert examiners was poor for many individual items of the diagnostic tool (K =.03-.65). This diagnostic tool had moderate sensitivity and specificity for HAD. However, reliability was poor, suggesting that substantial training and formal evaluations of training adequacy will be critical to enable HCW to reliably administer a brief diagnostic tool for HAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere32898
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 7 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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