High-intensity cannabis use associated with lower plasma human immunodeficiency virus-1 RNA viral load among recently infected people who use injection drugs.
Drug Alcohol Rev. 2015 Mar ;34(2):135-40. Epub 2014 Nov 11. PMID: 25389027
INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: Cannabis use is common among people who are living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (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 are largely unknown. Thus, we sought to investigate the possible effects of cannabis use on plasma HIV-1 RNA viral loads (pVLs) 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 modelling, 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(-1) . In a multivariable model, at least daily cannabis use was associated with 0.51 log10 c mL(-1) lower pVL (β = -0.51, standard error = 0.170, P value = 0.003).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: 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. Our findings support the further investigation of the immunomodulatory or antiviral effects of cannabinoids among individuals living with HIV/AIDS.