What is HIV/AIDS?
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that is responsible for causing acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus destroys or impairs cells of the immune system and progressively destroys the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers. In adults and adolescents, HIV is most commonly spread by sexual contact with an infected partner.
The virus has also been detected in breast milk and can be spread by breastfeeding.
Can Medical Marijuana HIV/AIDS?
The effectiveness of cannabis for treating symptoms related to HIV/AIDS is widely recognized. Its value as an anti-emetic and analgesic has been proven in numerous studies and has been recognized by several comprehensive, government- sponsored reviews. A review by the Institute of Medicine concluded, “For patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy and who suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any other single medication.”
Over 30% of patients with HIV/AIDS suffer from excruciating pain in the nerve endings (polyneuropathies), many in response to the antiretroviral therapies that constitute the first line of treatment for HIV/AIDS. But, there is no approved treatment for such pain that is satisfactory for a majority of patients. As a result, some patients must reduce or discontinue their HIV/AIDS therapy because they can neither tolerate nor eliminate the debilitating side effects of the antiretroviral first-line medications. In a 2007 study done at UCSF, cannabis was found to be effective to treat HIV neuropathy and is being offered as an option increasingly.