Correlates of frequent marijuana use among a cohort of men who have sex with men (MSM) infected with or at risk for HIV in the multicenter AIDS cohort study (MACS)

Published: July 22, 2010

Correlates of frequent marijuana use among a cohort of men who have sex with men (MSM) infected with or at risk for HIV in the multicenter AIDS cohort study (MACS)

W.-H. Kuo, MACS

Zayed University, Natural Science and Public Health, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Background: Anecdotal reports about marijuana´s alleviating effects on terminally ill patients have become widespread. This suggests a potential increase in therapeutic use among people with HIV, particularly those at an advanced stage of the disease. This study sought to determine the rates and trends of frequent marijuana use among HIV-infected and uninfected men who have sex with men (MSM), to identify correlates of frequent marijuana use, and to test its association with severity and complications of HIV disease.
Methods: We used the publicly available dataset of Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), which was collected between 1984 and 2005. Data were collected on semiannual basis and frequencies of marijuana use were inquired in every visit. Use of marijuana at least on weekly basis was defined as "frequent use." Generalized estimating equation (GEE) was used to control for multiple visits of the same participants. Trends of frequent use were also analyzed.
Results: We had more than 100,000 person-visits for our analysis. Generally, rates of frequent marijuana use declined in 1980s, climbed again through 1990s, and reached its peak in 2001 at 49.4%. Generally, HIV-infected MSM had higher rates of frequent marijuana use (OR=2.3, p< .05). Those reported AIDS-related complication also had higher rates of frequent marijuana use (OR=1.3, p< .05). Younger age, use of other illicit substances such as cocaine, crack, and popper was associated with frequent marijuana use in this cohort. There were no racial difference among the MACS participants in marijuana use.
Conclusions: Compared to our earlier study of women infected with and at risk for HIV from Women´s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), there were higher rates of frequent use of marijuana in this cohort of US MSM. There was also indirect evidence that, in addition to recreational use, marijuana may be used for therapeutic purposes in this cohort of MSM.

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