UBC Faculty Research and Publications

High-intensity cannabis use associated with lower plasma HIV-1 RNA viral load among recently-infected people who use injection drugs Milloy, M-J; Marshall, Brandon David Lewis; Kerr, Thomas; Richardson, Lindsey; Hogg, Robert S.; Guillemi, Silvia; Montaner, Julio; Wood, Evan


Introduction and Aims Cannabis use is common among people who are living with HIV/AIDS. While there is growing pre-clinical evidence of the immunomodulatory and anti-viral effects of cannabinoids, their possible effects on HIV disease parameters in humans is largely unknown. Thus, we sought to investigate the possible effects of cannabis use on plasma HIV-1 RNA viral loads among recently-seroconverted illicit drug users. Design and Methods We used data from two linked longitudinal observational cohorts of people who use injection drugs. Using multivariable linear mixed-effects modeling, we analysed the relationship between pVL and high-intensity cannabis use among participants who seroconverted following recruitment. Results Between May, 1996 and March, 2012, 88 individuals seroconverted after recruitment and were included in these analyses. Median pVL in the first 365 days among all seroconverters was 4.66 log10 c/mL. In a multivariable model, at least daily cannabis use was associated with 0.51 log10 c/mL lower pVL (β = −0.51, Standard Error = 0.170, p-value = 0.003). Discussion Consistent with the findings from recent in vitro and in vivo studies, including one conducted among lentiviral-infected primates, we observed a strong association between cannabis use and lower pVL following seroconversion among illicit drug-using participants. Conclusion Our findings support the further investigation of the immunomodulatory or anti-viral effects of cannabinoids among individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

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