The human immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus that invades cells in the human immune system, making it highly susceptible to infectious diseases. More than 600,000 Americans have died from HIV/AIDS and over one million US citizens are living with the disease, according to the World Health Organization.
We know that HIV can hide for long periods of time in the cells of your body and that it attacks a key part of your immune system – your T-cells or CD4 cells. Your body has to have these cells to fight infections and disease, but HIV invades them, uses them to make more copies of itself, and then destroys them.
You are considered to have progressed to AIDS if you have one or more specific OIs, certain cancers, or a very low number of CD4 cells. If you have AIDS, you will need medical intervention and treatment to prevent death.
How Cannabis Can Help Relieve Symptoms
Marijuana is used by as many as one in three North American patients with HIV/AIDS to treat symptoms of the disease as well as the side effects of various antiretroviral medications.
Patients living with HIV/AIDS most frequently report using marijuana to counter symptoms of anxiety, appetite loss and nausea and at least one study has reported that patients who use cannabis therapeutically are 3.3 times more likely to adhere to their antiretroviral therapy requirements than non-cannabis users.
Research published in 2007 at Columbia University reported that HIV/AIDS patients who inhaled cannabis four times daily experienced substantial increases in food intake with little evidence of discomfort and no impairment of cognitive performance. They concluded that smoking marijuana has a clear medical benefit in HIV-positive people.
Additional research published in 2008 at the University of California at San Diego reported similar findings, saying that smoking cannabis significantly reduced neuropathic pain intensity in HIV-associated mood disturbance. Furthermore, physical disability and quality of life all improved significantly during study treatment. The findings suggest that CBD therapy may be an effective option for pain relief in patients with medically intractable pain due to HIV.
An analysis published in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses by a team of researchers at Louisiana State University indicated that a daily regimen of THC may have a significant impact on the progression of HIV.
Researchers say that after a daily dose of THC to monkeys for a period of 17-months, the diseased primates displayed a decrease in damaged immune tissue in the stomach, a common spot for the infection to occur.