This study estimated the frequency of nine primitive reflexes (PR) and assessed their possible clinical value in a group of patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. We studied 78 patients with human inmunodeficiency type 1 (HIV-1) infection in WHO clinical stage 3 or 4 and 81 matched seronegative controls. All participants were examined using a standardized neurological examination and the Mini-Mental State Examination. Cognitive impairment and PR was found in 36% of patients but in none of the controls (P < 0.0001; logistic regression odds ratio: 14.7). Overall, PR were 2–36 times more frequent in patients with HIV-1 infection. This association was stronger for the glabellar, snout, Rossolimo, and digital signs. At least two PR were observed in 92% of patients vs. 8% of controls (P < 0.0001; 95% confidence interval: 68%–100%; logistic regression odds ratio: 10.8). These data support the association of PR with cognitive decline in patients with advanced HIV-1 infection without overt neurological disease. Larger follow-up studies with multivariate techniques are needed to identify which PRs are useful as indicators of HIV-1-associated cognitive/motor complex and minor neurocognitive disorders.
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