The National Institute on Drug Abuse has awarded a $3.2 million grant to the University of Florida to study the effects of medical cannabis for individuals suffering from HIV symptoms, according to a WTLV report. The study will be led by Dr. Robert Cook, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the UF College of Public Health and health professions at UF College of Medicine.

“Marijuana use is increasingly common in persons living with HIV infection,” Cook, who also serves as director of UF’s Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium, in the report. “Yet, past findings regarding the health impact of marijuana use on HIV have been limited and inconclusive.”

The HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium has published more than a dozen HIV-related studies in the past year. The long-term goal of the five-year cannabis study is to arm health providers, regulators, and patients with information to “guide clinical and safety recommendations for marijuana use.” Researchers from Florida International University and the University of South Florida will also work on the study.

The team plans to follow 400 HIV-positive individuals who admit to using cannabis whether medically or recreationally and conduct neurocognitive tests to evaluate the behavioral effects of cannabis on the brain. Researchers will also monitor the patients’ medication adherence, chronic inflammation, and viral suppression. They will also track the participants’ long-term use of opioids, and other patient symptoms such as pain, stress, and sleep patterns.

UF Health believes this will be the most comprehensive study to date focused on the health effects of HIV patients and cannabis.

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