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J Cannabis Ther 2003(2):03-15

Cannabis in HIV/AIDS

Cannabis Use by Persons Living with HIV/AIDS: Patterns and Prevalence of Use

Author
M.A. Ware, S. Rueda, J. Singer, D. Kilby

Abstract
This study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of use, reasons for use, amounts and methods used, and perceived effectiveness of cannabis and dronabinol among persons living with HIV/AIDS in Canada.

Cross-sectional anonymous self-administered questionnaire study. Four hundred patients were consecutively recruited from 3 primary care HIV clinics in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, and 50 questionnaires were distributed to PHAs (persons having AIDS) at one "cannabis compassion club."

Responses were received from 160 clinic patients and 19 compassion club patients (40% response rate). Of 160 PHAs attending the HIV clinics, 59 patients (37.3%, 95% CI 29.5-45.1%) reported current use of cannabis.

Of 19 compassion club clients, all reported current use of cannabis. Cannabis was most commonly used for stress relief and loss of appetite in both populations, in addition to relief of stress and nausea. Side effects included "high" and dry mouth. Dronabinol and cannabis were also reported to relieve adverse effects of antiretroviral therapy. Dronabinol is less widely used, cannabis being preferred.

Cannabis is commonly used among PHAs for a wide range of symptom relief. Clinical trials using standardized material are required to assess the magnitude of the effects of cannabis, to explore the role of the placebo effect, and to define dose exposures for risk-benefit assessment.


Keywords
Cannabis, marijuana, epidemiology, clinical trials, antiretroviral therapy, knowledge/attitude/practice studies, wasting/nutrition

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