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Measuring performance decrements in aviation personnel infected with the human immunodeficiency virus

, : Measuring performance decrements in aviation personnel infected with the human immunodeficiency virus. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 64(2): 158-164

There is controversy over whether cognitive impairment occurs in early human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease. When impairment is reported, findings are typically subclinical, affect only a minority, and their relationship to occupational functioning has not been established. Despite such findings, it has been recommended that HIV-seropositive pilots be disqualified from flying. This paper reviews research relevant to measuring performance decrements in HIV-infected aviators. Based upon current data, we conclude that although subtle neurobehavioral dysfunction may occur in some asymptomatic HIV-seropositive individuals, there is no research which has demonstrated associated decrements in aviation-related skills. Thus, it may be premature to recommend medical disqualification of all HIV-seropositive aviators. We propose, instead, that sensitive neurocognitive measures, incorporated into a comprehensive neurodiagnostic evaluation, could be used to evaluate asymptomatic HIV-seropositive aviators. Only those who are impaired on evaluation would be disqualified from flying. Concurrently, research investigating the relationship between abnormalities and aviation abilities would be conducted.


PMID: 8431191

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