The Impact of Marijuana Use on Memory in Patients with HIV/AIDS
The most robust neurocognitive effect of marijuana use is memory impairment. Memory deficits are also high among persons living with HIV/AIDS, and marijuana use among this population is disproportionately common. Yet research examining neurocognitive outcomes resulting from co-occurring marijuana and HIV is virtually non-existent. The primary aim of this case-controlled study was to identify patterns of neurocognitive impairment among HIV patients who used marijuana compared to HIV patients who did not use drugs by comparing the groups on domain T-scores. Participants included 32 current marijuana users and 37 non-drug users. A comprehensive battery assessed substance use and neurocognitive functioning. Among the full sample, marijuana users performed significantly worse on verbal memory tasks compared to non-drug users and significantly better on attention/working memory tasks. A secondary aim of this study was to test whether the effect of marijuana use on memory was moderated by HIV disease progression, but these models were not significant. This study also examined whether the effect of marijuana use was differentially affected by marijuana use characteristics, finding that earlier age of initiation was associated with worse memory performance. These findings have important clinical implications, particularly given increased legalization of this drug to manage HIV infection.
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