Man smoking

Marijuana linked to risky sex for Russians with HIV

BOSTON U. (US) — Marijuana use by Russians with HIV who are considered “risky drinkers” is linked to an increase in other unsafe behaviors involving drug use and sex.

Researchers say the new findings may help clinicians and public health experts detect individuals at a higher risk of transmitting HIV.

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is the most frequently used illicit drug worldwide. Previous research has shown that in certain non-HIV infected populations, marijuana use is associated with the use of other drugs such as cocaine and heroin, as well as an increase in unprotected sex and a larger number of sexual partners.

In Russia, the HIV epidemic has been largely propelled by injection drug use (IDU), although transmission through unprotected sex is increasing. Still, not much is known about marijuana use and its impact on those behaviors in individuals already infected with HIV.

For the study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers examined data collected in St. Petersburg, Russia, in a cohort of 700 HIV-infected individuals with risky drinking practices.

Risky drinkers are men who drink more than four drinks a day or 14 drinks a week and women who consume more than three drinks a day or seven drinks a week.

In this population, the frequency of marijuana use within the previous year was determined and those who used were compared to the non-users with regard to risky drug and sex practices, including needle sharing, IDU, the number of sex partners, and frequency of condom use.

Working with colleagues from Russia,  researchers found that baseline marijuana use is relatively common, with 20 percent having used within the previous month and 46 percent within the previous year. Forty-two percent of the respondents admitted to IDU and 23 percent to sharing needles within the previous 30 days, and 27 percent reported multiple sexual partners in the previous three months.

The data also shows a significant association among individuals who report using marijuana within the previous 30 days and an increase in sharing needles and in the number of injections. In addition, while marijuana use was not associated with decreased condom use, it was associated with an increased number of sexual partners.

The study results indicate that asking HIV-infected patients about marijuana use may identify those who are at a higher risk for transmitting HIV.

“I don’t think physicians currently inquire about marijuana use among HIV-infected individuals in part because they are not sure what to do with the information,” says Jeffrey Samet, chief of general internal medicine at Boston Medical Center and the article’s corresponding author.

“Given these findings and the high prevalence of marijuana use, it is important to explore whether or not its use results in risky behavior.”

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Source: Boston University

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8 Comments

  1. Sean Scully

    That’s a load of horse****. Weed spreads aids.. no more than govt spreads death to every nation.

  2. Gustavo

    Is this for real or is this a joke? So the “risky drinking” isn’t enough probable cause for people to engage in risky sexual behavior, you have to throw marijuana into the mix?? This is one of the most backwards studies I have ever heard of.

  3. Brandon

    This is stupidity at it’s finest. I’m majoring in GIS so perhaps I will debunk this article with a proper study after I get my degree.

    But it doesn’t take a GIS major to see that this is horseshit. It doesn’t even take a high school graduate. For starters, is the sample size representative of population? Does the sample represent marijuana smokers? No it represents drunks. The study shows that there are drunks who also like other drugs.

    But more importantly than that, they have either forgotten or neglected to mention one of the most important rules of statistics. Correlation does not imply causation.

    There’s probably a strong correlation between shark bites and ice cream sales, since they both happen with increasing frequency during the warm months. Does shark bites cause ice cream sales?

    Of course if you pay real close attention, they never specifically said that cannabis usage causes high risk behavior. But the article does appear to lead the reader to come to that conclusion.

    Either the people who did this study are complete and total morons or they are intentionally deceiving the public (but not necessarily lying). Pick your choice.

  4. Sea View

    Sensational headline to get you to read it.

    You know what I hate? When news stations do this to get you to stay up until 11:00 to learn NOTHING.

  5. jason

    I hope everyone understands how much garbage is being spread by this artcle. Why is cannabis even an issue? And here I thought this was supposed to be a scientific website.

  6. Jose

    It is illegal marijuana that is linked to risky behavior.

    Legalize it and there will be no association.

  7. Ralph

    Wow. I wonder if people that speed in cars might be linked to risky sexual behavior. Maybe there is a correlation between daredevils and risky behavior? Maybe people that drink to get drunk like to do other things that make them feel good? Maybe you get drunk at one of your parents christmas parties, steal a smoke from someone and before you know it your doing bong hits? Then you start asking around for refer and people are like

    “nah man, but I got some special K, You ever do it?”

    Then you ask if it’s dangerous and they are like “nah, besides, remember all the likes in the DARE program?”

    Anyways, never smoked a doobie and woke up the next day w/ a chick. Has happened with alcohol though.

    Moral of the story is that if you get inebriated you are taking a chance, you speed you take a chance and if you walk out the door you take a chance. Some is calculated risk and some isn’t. Maybe some people take more risks than others. Maybe putting gasp! Marijuana in the headline is just a shameless tactic. Glad we solved cancer and can study whether or not someone that takes risks breaking laws might take risks in everyday life.

    Shocked. Next Refer Madness piece please!

  8. Guy Fawkes

    This study is fatally flawed. You take a group of heavy drinking heroin addicts and then you ask “Is their risky behavior tied to pot use?” Please, that’s like taking a bunch convicted pedophiles who also smoke pot and saying “Is pedophilia tied to marijuana use?” I like also how you can’t even view their conflicts of interest page unless you pay $35 to buy this crap article. The publisher Elsevier, is nothing but a scam that charges people to view studies paid for by the public. Real scientists publish in Nature, PNAS or PLos.

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