Medicinal and recreational marijuana use among HIV-infected women in the Women's interagency HIV study (WIHS) cohort, 1994-2010

Gypsyamber D'Souza, Pamela A. Matson, Cynthia D. Grady, Shadi Nahvi, Dan Merenstein, Kathleen M. Weber, Ruth Greenblatt, Pam Burian, Tracey E. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the major benefits of effective antiretroviral therapy on HIV-related survival, there is an ongoing need to help alleviate medication side effects related to antiretroviral therapy use. Initial studies suggest that marijuana use may reduce HIV-related symptoms, but medical marijuana use among HIV-infected individuals has not been well described. Methods: The authors evaluated trends in marijuana use and reported motivations for use among 2776 HIV-infected women in the Women's Interagency HIV Study between October 1994 and March 2010. Predictors of any and daily marijuana use were explored in multivariate logistic regression models clustered by person using generalized estimating equation. In 2009, participants were asked if their marijuana use was medical, "meaning prescribed by a doctor," or recreational, or both. Results: Over the 16 years of this study, the prevalence of current marijuana use decreased significantly from 21% to 14%. In contrast, daily marijuana use almost doubled from 3.3% to 6.1% of all women and from 18% to 51% of current marijuana users. Relaxation, appetite improvement, reduction of HIV-related symptoms, and social use were reported as common reasons for marijuana use. In 2009, most marijuana users reported either purely medicinal use (26%) or both medicinal and recreational usage (29%). Daily marijuana use was associated with higher CD4 cell count, quality of life, and older age. Demographic characteristics and risk behaviors were associated with current marijuana use overall but were not predictors of daily use. Conclusions: This study suggests that both recreational and medicinal marijuana use are relatively common among HIV-infected women in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-626
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 15 2012


  • Cannabis
  • HIV
  • Marijuana
  • Medicinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Medicinal and recreational marijuana use among HIV-infected women in the Women's interagency HIV study (WIHS) cohort, 1994-2010'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this