Study: ‘Little Evidence’ That Cannabis Harmfully Impacts Cognition in People with HIV

in Culture

Cannabis is widely used to help mitigate the symptoms of a variety of conditions and diseases. Specifically, a number of state medical cannabis programs list HIV/AIDS as a qualifying condition, as cannabis can help to eliminate a variety of symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS treatment.

Though, some clinicians have expressed concern how regular cannabis treatments in this regard may impact patient cognition. 

Researchers affiliated with the University of California at San Diego sought to investigate the cognitive impacts of cannabis use in people with HIV through a newly published meta-analysis in the journal Current HIV/AIDS Reports. 

Ultimately, they conclude that neither the use of whole-plant cannabis or cannabis-based medicines are associated with significant cognitive changes in those with HIV.

Cannabis Use Among People with HIV

In the study abstract, researchers note the potential benefits that cannabis use can offer patients with HIV while recognizing this population’s “high burden of persisting neurocognitive impairment” and physician concerns with adding cannabis into the mix, specifically its potential cognitive effects.

Cannabis use among those with HIV is far from a new trend. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved synthetic oral THC capsules (dronabinol) to treat HIV-induced cachexia, or loss of appetite, in 1985.

Additionally, surveys have consistently affirmed that cannabis use is common among people with HIV, with one 2007 study predating the bulk of medical reform measures in the U.S. still finding that more than 60% of HIV/AIDS patients self-identified as medical cannabis users. 

Another more recent 2022 study noted that 77% and 34% of people with HIV reported lifetime and past-year cannabis use, respectively.

While some of these patients report recreational use as one reason, research over the years has found that cannabis is largely used among people with HIV to stimulate appetite, reduce pain, relax and ease anxiety and …

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Author: Keegan Williams / High Times

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