The Impact of Marijuana Use on Memory in HIV-Infected Patients: A Comprehensive Review of the HIV and Marijuana Literatures.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

BACKGROUND: The most robust neurocognitive effect of marijuana use is memory impairment. Memory deficits are also high among persons living with HIV/AIDS, and marijuana is the most commonly used drug in this population. Yet research examining neurocognitive outcomes resulting from co-occurring marijuana and HIV is limited. OBJECTIVE: The primary objectives of this comprehensive review are to: (1) examine the literature on memory functioning in HIV-infected individuals; (2) examine the literature on memory functioning in marijuana users; (3) synthesize findings and propose a theoretical framework to guide future research. METHOD: PubMed was searched for English publications 2000-2013. Twenty-two studies met inclusion criteria in the HIV literature, and 23 studies in the marijuana literature. RESULTS: Among HIV-infected individuals, memory deficits with medium to large effect sizes were observed. Marijuana users also demonstrated memory problems, but results were less consistent due to the diversity of samples. CONCLUSION: A compensatory hypothesis, based on the cognitive aging literature, is proposed to provide a framework to explore the interaction between marijuana and HIV. There is some evidence that individuals infected with HIV recruit additional brain regions during memory tasks to compensate for HIV-related declines in neurocognitive functioning. Marijuana is associated with disturbance in similar brain systems, and thus it is hypothesized that the added neural strain of marijuana can exhaust neural resources, resulting in pronounced memory impairment. It will be important to test this hypothesis empirically, and future research priorities are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Skalski, LM; Towe, SL; Sikkema, KJ; Meade, CS

Published Date

  • 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 9 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 126 - 141

PubMed ID

  • 27138170

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5093083

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1874-4745

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2174/1874473709666160502124503


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United Arab Emirates