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Factors Associated with the Perceived Effectiveness of Marijuana for Anxiety Among People Living with HIV

Karina Villalba
University of Central Florida

Co-authors: Ruba Sajdeya1, Li Yancheng1, Stella Seeger1, Christa Cook2, Jocelyn Mueller, Jason Ford2, Robert L. Cook1
1University of Florida 2Unviersity of Central Florida

Among people living with HIV (PLWH), the prevalence rates of marijuana use range between 20 to 60%, with more than half using marijuana to manage anxiety symptoms. However, not all PLWH perceive marijuana as an effective treatment for anxiety. Understanding which factors are associated with perceived marijuana effectiveness has the potential to improve therapeutic recommendations for PLWH.

Thus, this study aimed to identify specific characteristics (i.e., demographic and health conditions) associated with perceived marijuana effectiveness for anxiety among PLWH. This was a cross-sectional study using baseline data from the Marijuana and Potential Long-term Effects (MAPLE) Study. Demographic characteristics included age, sex, sexual orientation, and health conditions (e.g., physical, mental). The effectiveness score was dichotomized into two categories, not very effective (0-8) and very effective (9-10). The descriptive analysis was done using Chi-Square and Fisher’s exact tests for categorical variables (N %) and the Mann-Whitney test for numerical variables (Median IQR). The multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to identify characteristics associated with perceived effectiveness using the backward elimination method.

A total of 187 participants who self reported anxiety (Yes/No) or had a GAD-7 score ≥ 10, or those who reported using cannabis for anxiety/ stress were included in the analysis. The median (IQR) age was 50 (39, 57), 62% were males, 62% were African Americans, and 57% were heterosexual. In the bivariate analysis, perceived marijuana effectiveness for anxiety was significantly greater in women, LGBTQ, and self-report schizophrenia, cancer, and chronic lung disease (p≤0.05).

In the adjusted analysis, PLWH who were LGBTQ (OR 0.26, 95% CI .10 – .67) or reported diabetes (OR 0.14, 95% CI .02 -.95), depression (OR 0.37, 95% CI .14-.97), or schizophrenia (OR 0.12, 95% CI .02-.64) were less likely to report marijuana as very effective; whereas those with PTSD (OR 3.7, 95% CI 1.1012.6) and cancer ( OR 11.7, 95% CI 1.1 – 128.5) were more likely to report marijuana as very effective for anxiety. No other variables were significant in the bivariate or multivariate analyses.

The current research addressed an important gap in the literature by identifying characteristics associated with perceived marijuana effectiveness among PLWH who reported anxiety.

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