What is progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy?
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy is an advancing viral inflammation of the white matter of the brain. Immunosuppressed people are more susceptible to this disorder than the general population. Evidence of the disease may be a person´s recent loss of coordination and weakness, progressing to a loss of language, visual problems and
headaches. PML is a rare inflammatory disorder that leads to loss of myelin in multiple areas within the white matter of the brain. It is a virus-induced disease seen in people with poor immune function (immunocompromised).
PML is an opportunistic infection associated with AIDS and certain cancers. It occurs in people with inadequate immune response and carries a poor prognosis. The incidence of PML, once quite rare, is rising as the numbers of people living with persistently compromised immune systems rises. An estimated 2-7% of people with HIV disease will develop PML. The infection also occurs among people undergoing long-term chemotherapy for cancer. PML is not considered a contagious disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control definition of AIDS, PML in the presence of HIV infection is sufficient to form a diagnosis of AIDS.
Symptoms and signs include loss of coordination, clumsiness, memory loss, progressively worsening weakness of the legs, and to a lesser extent, arms. Other signs may include loss of language capability (aphasia), visual field defects, and headaches. The greatest risk is being immunosuppressed.