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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology
Volume 25, Issue 1, Pages e1-e7
Original Article

Patterns and Correlates of Cannabis Use among Individuals with HIV/AIDS in Maritime Canada

Gregory E Harris,1 Lise Dupuis,2 Gerald J Mugford,3 Lynn Johnston,4 David Haase,5 Ginny Page,6 Heather Haldane,7 Nicholas Harris,8 William K Midodzi,9 and Gordon Dow10

1Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
2Horizon Health Network, Moncton, Canada
3The Health Sciences Centre, Faculty of Medicine (Medicine and Psychiatry), St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
4Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Capital District Health Authority, Canada
5Capital District Health Authority and Dalhousie University, Canada
6QEII Health Sciences Centre, Victoria General Hospital Site, Canada
7Department of Infectious Diseases, Center for Clinical Research, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
8Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
9Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University, St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
10Dalhousie University, The Moncton Hospital, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Copyright © 2014 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: The prevalence of cannabis use in HIV-infected individuals is high and its long-term effects are unclear.

METHODS: The prevalence, perceived benefits and consequences, and predictors of cannabis use were studied using a cross-sectional survey in two immunodeficiency clinics in Maritime Canada.

RESULTS: Current cannabis use was identified in 38.5% (87 of 226) of participants. Almost all cannabis users (85 of 87 [97.7%]) acknowledged its use for recreational purposes, with 21.8% (19 of 87) reporting medicinal cannabis use. The majority of patients enrolled in the present study reported mild or no symptoms related to HIV (n=179). Overall, 80.5% (70 of 87) of the cannabis-using participants reported a symptom-relieving benefit, mostly for relief of stress, anorexia or pain. Participants consumed a mean (± SD) of 18.3±21.1 g of cannabis per month and spent an average of $105.15±109.87 on cannabis per month. Cannabis use was associated with rural residence, lower income level, driving under the influence of a substance, and consumption of ecstasy and tobacco. Income level, ecstasy use and tobacco use were retained as significant predictors in regression modelling. Cannabis use was not associated with adverse psychological outcomes.

DISCUSSION: Prolonged previous cannabis consumption and the substantial overlap between recreational and medicinal cannabis use highlight the challenges in obtaining a tenable definition of medicinal cannabis therapy.