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The Mind Matters Study A Healthy Brain Project

Dr. Raul Gonzalez – Associate Professor, Psychology, Psychiatry and Immunology Florida International University

mind_matters_headerInvestigators at FIU are conducting a study on how using or not using Marijuana affects the thinking and health of people with HIV.

If you qualify, we will pay you $200 for your participation. Your answers and tests will be private and confidential.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug used in our country according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Recreational use has grown and there has been greater acceptance for medical use especially to relieve some symptoms affecting people living with HIV/AIDS. Recent changes in state laws have helped gain access to marijuana for everyone including people living with HIV/AIDS, mostly in other states. Given these changes, it is very important to clearly understand how use of marijuana may affect the health and well-being of individuals living with HIV/AIDS. There is scientific evidence that indicates drug use often worsens HIV-associated brain and thinking disorders, but most studies have focused on cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. We don’t know if use of marijuana may or may not be harmful for thinking and behavior among those with HIV/AIDS or its impact on daily functioning, and why or what are the causes. We just don’t know all its effects!

 Our FIU Mind Matters Study has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health to explore these issues. We are asking for volunteers who are English-speaking 18 to 60 years old to enroll in our study. These volunteers include people who use and do not use marijuana, people living with HIV and who do not have HIV. It’s possible that you may qualify. The study is looking for individuals meeting specific criteria that sometimes changes. Most people don’t qualify, but many do. The purpose of the study addresses these questions by carefully finding out how marijuana use and HIV affect the thinking abilities and health of people with and without HIV. We hope the information we gather can offer evidence about how marijuana may or may not affect important “real-world” behaviors among people who have HIV and who do not. For example, some of these issues may be related to management of finances and medications. In addition, we plan to explore bodily mechanisms that may interact with marijuana use and brain activities, and its connection to the immune system and anti-inflammatory effects. We hope to address important gaps in the current research literature and advance forward research as it is related to marijuana use and our brain function and, in turn, help patients/clients, healthcare providers, and policy makers better gauge the consequences of marijuana use among those who are HIV+. 

Our process includes a screening questionnaire that can be done by phone and takes about 20 minutes. Those who are interested can call 305-209-3348 and leave a message with their name, number and the best time of day to call back. When the screening is completed, the person is then told if they qualify, given more information about what is needed for the study, directions and scheduled for his or her interview. There is free parking if the person drives to Midtown and if requested, part of the interview can be done on Saturdays. The person is paid $200 when the visit is completed. The visit can take 6-hours or less and is completed on the same day. It involves computer games, and other questions answered on a computer or by paper and pencil. Some of our questions involve information about personal alcohol and drug use, as well as mental health and other activities. The individual’s name is not connected to these questionnaires and the person is assigned an ID#. We also have a Certificate of Confidentiality that ensures information remains confidential. If you would like more information, have any questions or concerns, please text or call us at our number: 305-209-3348 or e-mail us at


To participate, you need to:

  • Be 18 to 60 years old and have finished 8 years or more of school
  • Read and write well in English
  • Answer questions by phone to see if you qualify for the study
  • Spend 6 hours on a one-day visit to FIU or other downtown Miami locations
  • Complete a urine drug screen and breath test for alcohol
  • Answer questions about your medical history, mental health, and alcohol and drug use
  • Complete tests about your thinking skills
  • Obtain proof of your HIV and Hepatitis C status from your doctor or from local free testing sites
  • Some participants may need to have their blood drawn


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