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HIV/AIDS and Medical Marijuana

A new study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (JAIDS), found that THC might be able to help prevent HIV from becoming AIDS. Patients with HIV in the United States routinely use cannabinoid-based therapies to combat the side effects of HIV infection and antiretroviral therapy. Additionally, cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are well-characterized immunosuppressants.

The value of Cannabis with HIV/AIDS

The effectiveness of cannabis for treating symptoms related to HIV/AIDS is widely recognized.

For patients with AIDS or those who are undergoing chemotherapy and suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.

The value of Cannabis as an anti-emetic and analgesic has been proven in numerous studies and has been recognized by several comprehensive, government-sponsored reviews. Research published in 2004 found that nearly one quarter of AIDS patients were using cannabis. The large majority reported relief of anxiety and/or depression and improved appetite. Nearly one third said it also increased pleasure and provided relief of pain.

Cannabis has also been used as an alternative medicine for AIDS wasting syndrome, a frequent complication of HIV infection, associated with major weight loss and cachexia. These conditions can debilitate sufferers, who are already weakened by immune systems failure and infection. Cannabis use can help increase appetite and decrease other AIDS symptoms.


HIV/AIDS and Pain Relief

In response to many first-line antiretroviral treatments for HIV/AIDS, many sufferers (over 30%) experience extreme pain in nerve endings (polyneuropathies and neuropathies). While there is no approved treatment for this pain, British researchers recently reported that cannabis extract sprayed under the tongue was effective in reducing pain in 18 of 23 patients. This finding is corroborated by studies in which cannabinoids have been shown to be effective analgesics in animal pain models.


A pilot study of the effects of cannabis on appetite hormones in HIV-infected adult men


Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy

Smoked Medicinal Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain in HIV: A Randomized, Crossover Clinical Trial

Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol treatment during human monocyte differentiation reduces macrophage susceptibility to HIV-1 infection

National Institutes of Health

Short-term effects of cannabinoids in patients with HIV-1 infection: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

National Institutes of Health

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