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Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s Disease (HD Book Pink 2013) 

This is a general introduction to Huntington’s Disease (HD). It provides information for anyone interested in finding out more about HD, including people living with HD and their families and friends. 

Living with HD presents many challenges and these are unique to every person and family. Keep that in mind as you read through this document. This is general information and your individual experience may be different. 

Symptoms of HD usually appear when a person is in their mid-30s or 40s, although up to a quarter of people living with HD will not have symptoms until they are in their 60s. Symptoms manifest in 3 areas: involuntary movement (jerks and twitches); intellectual impairment; or changes in behaviour. 

HD is an inherited neurological disease. If one parent has the gene, each child has a 50/50 risk of inheriting the gene. Not everyone in a family will develop HD, but everyone will be touched by its emotional costs. HD is very much a family disease. 

Although we know which gene causes HD, there is currently no cure. However, advances in research and treatment mean that life for HD families is hopeful.  

If we all engage in open and frank discussions, and provide as much support as possible, we can all make a difference in the lives of people with HD and their families. 

 This booklet covers: 

the history of Huntington’s disease 

the prevalence of the disease and how it can be traced in families 

– what happens in the brain of people with HD, and how that impacts their movement and behaviour 

early symptoms 

– the progressive stages of HD 

– the risks and benefits of testing to find out if you have the HD gene 

– family planning decisions and sexual relationships 

– denial and coping strategies 

– current scientific research. 


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