Studying the neuropsychological sequelae of SARS-CoV-2: lessons learned from 35 years of neuroHIV research

Andrew Levine, Ned Sacktor, James T. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The virology of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the human immune response to the virus are under vigorous investigation. There are now several reports describing neurological symptoms in individuals who develop coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the syndrome associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. The prevalence, incidence, and clinical course of these symptoms will become clearer in the coming months and years through epidemiological studies. However, the long-term neurological and cognitive consequence of SARS-CoV-2 infection will remain conjectural for some time and will likely require the creation of cohort studies that include uninfected individuals. Considering the early evidence for neurological involvement in COVID-19 it may prove helpful to compare SARS-CoV-2 with another endemic and neurovirulent virus, human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1), when designing such cohort studies and when making predictions about neuropsychological outcomes. In this paper, similarities and differences between SARS-CoV-2 and HIV-1 are reviewed, including routes of neuroinvasion, putative mechanisms of neurovirulence, and factors involved in possible long-term neuropsychological sequelae. Application of the knowledge gained from over three decades of neuroHIV research is discussed, with a focus on alerting researchers and clinicians to the challenges in determining the cause of neurocognitive deficits among long-term survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-823
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of neurovirology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • COVID-19
  • HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders
  • NeuroHIV
  • Neuropsychology
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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