Cannabis use, pain interference, and prescription opioid receipt among persons with HIV: a target trial emulation study

William C. Becker, Yu Li, Ellen C. Caniglia, Rachel Vickers-Smith, Termeh Feinberg, Brandon D.L. Marshall, E. Jennifer Edelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Concomitant with expanded legalization, cannabis is increasingly used to treat chronic pain among persons with HIV (PWH), despite equivocal benefit in research limited by small sample sizes and short duration of follow-up. To address these limitations, among a sample of PWH with pain interference enrolled in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study, we performed a target trial emulation study to compare the impact of four cannabis use strategies on pain interference. Among those receiving long-term opioid therapy (LTOT), we also explored impact of these strategies on ≥ 25% LTOT dose reduction. Among the analytic sample (N = 1284), the majority were men with a mean age of 50. Approximately 31% used cannabis and 12% received LTOT at baseline. Adjusting for demographic and clinical factors, cannabis use in any of 4 longitudinal patterns was not associated with resolved pain interference over 12- to 24-month follow-up. Among 153 participants receiving LTOT at baseline, cannabis use at both baseline and follow-up was negatively associated with LTOT dose reduction compared to no use at both baseline and follow-up. These findings support other observational studies finding no association between cannabis use and improved chronic pain or LTOT reduction among PWH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-477
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health: [Grant Number 5U01AA020790-10 and R01 DA040471]; VA Health Services Research & Development: [Grant Number COR 19-489]. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the VA or the United States government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Chronic pain
  • cannabis use
  • long-term opioid therapy
  • target trial emulation study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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