The use of medical marijuana has been proven to ameliorate some symptoms of HIV/AIDS, in addition to treating the side effects of antiretroviral medications (ARVs).
WHAT IS HIV/AIDS?
HIV or human immunodeficiency virus destroys cells that fight infection and weakens the immune system. HIV advances in three stages:
- Acute HIV
- Clinical latency
- Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
The most serious phase of an HIV infection is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Individuals with AIDS are likely to contract severe illnesses, known as opportunistic infections.
While AIDS has no cure, the symptoms can be controlled through proper treatment. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can extend the lifespan of an individual with AIDS to almost that of an uninfected individual.
Many patients experience short lived flu-like symptoms. Itis important to get tested regularly if you think you may be at risk of contracting HIV, since apparent symptoms may not show up until years later whenthe disease is progressed.
Early symptoms include:
- Fever and night sweats
- Swollen glands
- Frequent yeast infections
- Skin problems, sores, and rashes
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Advanced symptoms include:
- Chronic cough
- Mental confusion and short-term memory loss
- Trouble swallowing
· Weight loss
- Joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe headache
- Shortness of breath
In going form HIV to AIDS, patients often experience difficult infections as well as cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma.
In addition, patients may also have to cope with a number of side effects from medication, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
HOW MEDICAL MARIJUANA HELPS HIV/AIDS PATIENTS
Certain effects of HIV have been approved for treatment by the FDA. One of these, Dronabinol (Marinol), a synthetic form of marijuana cannabinoid THC, is used to treat HIV-associated loss of appetite.
In addition, a 2004 study published by the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome:
“A substantial percentage of cannabis users view edit as beneficial for relief of symptoms commonly associated with HIV/AIDS. Relief from anxiety and depression were among the most frequently reported reasons for smoking cannabis, followed by appetite stimulation and reliefof nausea.”
As researchers note:
“This finding is particularly relevant to issues of antiretroviral medication adherence. Nausea and anorexia are frequently cited as reasons for delayed or missed doses and discontinuation of ART.”
In 2012, researchers explore the idea that cannabis may do more that help control symptoms and medication side effects:
“Data from our controlled studies in non-human primates show chronic Delta-9 THC administration prior to and during simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection ameliorates disease progression, and attenuates viral load and tissue inflammation, significantly reducing morbidity and mortality.”
Some studies may show that cannabinoid receptor agonists work to suppress HIV-replication. Researchers are also looking into the possibility that marijuana lowers viral replication by mediating neuroinflammation.
Before purchasing cannabis from a medical marijuana treatment center, Florida patients must first qualify for a medical marijuana certification; Mary J MD provides qualified patients with the state-required recommendation to complete this process.