In August, our team launched its new study CHI! HIV disease and marijuana use can both affect how the immune system works, and this may impact the brain. Recent data suggests that marijuana and other cannabinoids may have anti-inflammatory properties that may lessen the negative effects of HIV on brain. On the other hand, chronic marijuana use has also been shown to impact memory and other cognitive functions. The CHI project will investigate the underlying mechanisms through which marijuana use may impact brain integrity. Go to our “Participate” page to learn more on how to get involved!
This 5-year grant entitled, Modeling the effects of chronic marijuana use on neuroinflammation and HIV-related neuronal injury, was awarded to Dr. Christina Meade (PI) and Dr. Sheri Towe (Co-I) in the HIV and Addictions Research Program at Duke. The hypothesis-drived proposal will investigate the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of HIV-associated brain dysfunction and the mechanisms through which chronic marijuana use may alter the central nervous system. The cohort of 140 adults will complete cutting-edge neuroimaging, immune and cytokine profiling, and neuropsychological testing three times over 2 years. Capitalizing on ultrahigh-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) capabilities at Duke, we will use multimodal, multi-parametric sequences to investigate neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative processes. This multidisciplinary project is a collaborative effort with Dr. Brian Soher in Radiology, Dr. Mehri McKellar in Medicine, and Dr. Doug Williamson in Psychiatry.
The HARP team recently published an article titled “Examining the Potential of Pre‑exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV Prevention in a Community Sample of Persons Who Use Stimulants Living in the Southern United States” in AIDS and Behavior. Of 352 participants, over half (61%) met criteria for PrEP candidacy, but less than 20% had heard of PrEP. Willingness to take PrEP was high, and PrEP candidates reported more frequent and problematic stimulant use relative to non-candidates. Our results show that persons who use stimulants are a high-risk population that could benefit significantly from PrEP. Click here to read more!