There is no apparent association between the use of marijuana and the progression of liver fibrosis in those coinfected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Canadian researchers sought to shed better light on a matter about which previous research studies have produced conflicting results. So they designed a prospective multicenter cohort study of 690 HIV/hep C-positive participants without significant fibrosis or end-stage liver disease.

At the beginning of the study, 53 percent of the participant had smoked pot in the previous six months, smoking a median of seven joints each week. Forty percent of them smoked daily.

With a median follow-up period of 2.7 years among the study participants, there was no evidence that smoking marijuana accelerated the progression to significant liver fibrosis or cirrhosis.

Initially, it seemed that for each 10 additional joints per week that the participants smoked, they had a 13 percent increased risk of progressing to cirrhosis or end-stage liver disease. However, after considering marijuana use over a wider spectrum of time—six to 12 months before the diagnosis—the researchers found evidence that it was in fact the diagnosis itself that was likely causing increased pot usage, in the form of self-medication.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.