Cannabis is tied to cognitive benefit in people living with HIV

  • Watson CW & al.
  • J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr
  • 01.01.2020

  • von Liz Scherer
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Cannabis (CAN) exposure is associated with lower odds for neurocognitive impairment (NCI) and better verbal/learning performance in the context of HIV among people living with HIV (PLHIV), regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity.

Why this matters

  • Under certain conditions, CAN might be neuroprotective in PLHIV with detectable or undetectable disease.
  • Dose/expose is unclear.

Key results

  • 952 participants (273 HIV-negative, 679 PLHIV); median age, 43.2 years (standard deviation [SD], 11.7).
  • 76.4% men; 70.7% gay/bisexual; 49.8% white, 26.7% Black/African American, 17.3% Hispanic.
  • CAN exposure higher in younger (
  • Average lifetime daily use in CAN-exposed (CAN+) group: 1.3 g/day (SD=1.8); median, 0.6 (interquartile range [IQR], 0.3-1.5); total lifetime, 1724 (IQR, 454-5542) g.
  • Multivariate: CAN+ linked to lower NCI odds among PLHIV (OR, 0.53; P=.009).
    • CAN+ not linked to NCI among HIV-negative individuals (OR, 1.41; P=.40).
    • CAN+ linked to higher performance in verbal fluency (P=.02; coefficient, 2.86), learning (P=.02; coefficient, 2.70) domains in PLHIV.

Study design

  • Prospective cross-sectional cohort study examining independent, interactive effects of HIV, cannabis on NCI rates in PLHIV.
  • Funding: NIH.

Limitations

  • Cross-sectional design.
  • Nongeneralizable cohort.
  • Self-report bias.
  • Undefined cannabis exposure.