Marijuana Associated With Neuroprotection in HIV Patients, Says Study

According to new research those with HIV who have a history of marijuana use are less likely to experience neurocognitive decline.

The research was published in the recent issue of the Journal of Acquired Immunity Definiciency Syndrome, and was published under the study titled Cannabis exposure is associated with a lower likelihood of neurocognitive impairment in people living with HIV,” appears in the Journal of Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome.

Participants included “679 people living with HIV (PLHIV) and 273 people living without HIV (HIV-) (18-79 years old) who completed neurocognitive, neuromedical, and substance use assessments.” NCI was defined as “a demographically corrected global deficit score ≥ 0.5. Logistic regression models examined the effects of age, HIV, cannabis (history of cannabis substance use disorder and cannabis use in past year), and their 2-way and 3-way interactions on NCI.”

Researchers found that “In logistic regression models, only a significant interaction of HIV X cannabis was detected (P = 0.02). Among PLHIV, cannabis was associated with a lower proportion of NCI (odds ratio = 0.53, 95% confidence interval = 0.33-0.85) but not among HIV- individuals (P = 0.40). These effects did not vary by age.”

In conclusion, they state: “Findings suggest cannabis exposure is linked to a lower odds of NCI in the context of HIV. A possible mechanism of this result is the anti-inflammatory effect of cannabis, which may be particularly important for PLHIV. Further investigations are needed to refine the effects of dose, timing, and cannabis compound on this relationship, which could inform guidelines for cannabis use among populations vulnerable to cognitive decline.”

The full abstract of the study can be found below:

BACKGROUND:

Aging and HIV have adverse effects on the central nervous system, including increased inflammation and neural injury and confer risk of neurocognitive impairment (NCI). Previous research suggests the nonacute neurocognitive effects of cannabis in the general population are adverse or null. However, in the context of aging and HIV, cannabis use may exert beneficial effects due to its anti-inflammatory properties. In the current study, we examined the independent and interactive effects of HIV and cannabis on NCI and the potential moderation of these effects by age.

METHODS:

Participants included 679 people living with HIV (PLHIV) and 273 people living without HIV (HIV-) (18-79 years old) who completed neurocognitive, neuromedical, and substance use assessments. NCI was defined as a demographically corrected global deficit score ≥ 0.5. Logistic regression models examined the effects of age, HIV, cannabis (history of cannabis substance use disorder and cannabis use in past year), and their 2-way and 3-way interactions on NCI.

RESULTS:

In logistic regression models, only a significant interaction of HIV X cannabis was detected (P = 0.02). Among PLHIV, cannabis was associated with a lower proportion of NCI (odds ratio = 0.53, 95% confidence interval = 0.33-0.85) but not among HIV- individuals (P = 0.40). These effects did not vary by age.

CONCLUSIONS:

Findings suggest cannabis exposure is linked to a lower odds of NCI in the context of HIV. A possible mechanism of this result is the anti-inflammatory effect of cannabis, which may be particularly important for PLHIV. Further investigations are needed to refine the effects of dose, timing, and cannabis compound on this relationship, which could inform guidelines for cannabis use among populations vulnerable to cognitive decline.

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