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The association of therapeutic versus recreational marijuana use and antiretroviral adherence among adults living with HIV in Florida

Authors Mannes ZL, Burrell II LE, Ferguson EG, Zhou Z, Lu H, Somboonwit C, Cook RL, Ennis N

Received 10 March 2018

Accepted for publication 9 May 2018

Published 27 July 2018 Volume 2018:12 Pages 1363—1372

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S167826

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Cristina Weinberg

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen


Zachary L Mannes,1 Larry E Burrell II,1 Erin G Ferguson,1 Zhi Zhou,2,3 Huiyin Lu,4,5 Charurut Somboonwit,6 Robert L Cook,2,3 Nicole Ennis1

1Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 2Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health and Health Professions, 3Department of Epidemiology, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; 4Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health and Health Professions, 5Department of Biostatistics, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA; 6Department of Internal Medicine, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

Purpose: Marijuana use is common among people living with HIV (PLWH), but its association with antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence is unclear. This study examined the association between reason for marijuana use and ART adherence in a sample of adults living with HIV.
Patients and methods: Participants (N=703) recruited from seven community health centers in Florida completed a 45-minute questionnaire assessing demographics, symptoms of anxiety and depression, ART adherence, and substance use, including reasons for marijuana use. ART adherence was defined as the proportion of days in the last 30 days participants did not miss any medication and dichotomized as optimal (≥95%) and suboptimal (<95%). Multivariate logistic regression analysis assessed the association between therapeutic marijuana use to manage HIV symptoms (ie, improve appetite/gain weight, induce sleep, relieve nausea/vomiting, relieve pain, relieve anxiety/depression/stress) versus recreational marijuana use and ART adherence.
Results: Approximately one third (33.2%) of the participants reported using marijuana in the past 3 months. Of marijuana users, 21.8% reported using marijuana only for therapeutic purposes to manage HIV-associated medical symptoms, while 78.2% reported recreational use. After controlling for covariates, therapeutic use of marijuana was not associated with ART adherence (AOR =1.19, 95% CI =0.60–2.38, p=0.602) while recreational marijuana users showed significantly greater odds of suboptimal ART adherence compared to nonusers (AOR =1.80, 95% CI =1.18–2.72, p=0.005).
Conclusion: Our results suggest differences in ART adherence between individuals who report recreational versus therapeutic marijuana use. Continued research examining the health implications of marijuana use among adults living with HIV is important as legalization of recreational and medical marijuana proliferates in the United States.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, marijuana use, antiretroviral therapy, antiretroviral adherence

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