Marijuana and HIV/AIDS
Beginning in the 1970s, a series of human clinical trials established cannabis's ability to stimulate food intake and weight gain in healthy volunteers. In AIDS patients, marijuana can improve appetite and nausea. Many patients also experience improved mood and weight gain. Unwanted effects are generally mild or moderate in intensity.
From the Institute of Medicine (a federal agency)
"For patients such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy and who suffer simultaneously from pain, nausea, and appetite loss, cannabinoid drugs might offer broad spectrum relief not found in any other single medication." — an excerpt from Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base (1999) Institute of Medicine
Published Research Articles
Cannabis in Painful HIV-associated Sensory Neuropathy: A randomized placebo-controlled trial.
Donald Abrams, MD, et al. (2007) Neurology. 68:515-521
Objective: To study the effect of smoked cannabis on the neuropathic pain of HIV-associated sensory neuropathy and an experimental pain model.
Methods: Fifty patients were randomly assigned to smoke either cannabis or identical placebo cigarettes with the cannabinoids extracted. Patients smoked 3 times daily for 5 days.
Conclusion: Smoked cannabis reduced pain by 34%. Smoked cannabis was well tolerated and effectively relieved chronic neuropathic pain from HIV-associated sensory neuropathy. The findings are comparable to oral drugs used for chronic neuropathic pain.
Short-Term Effect of Cannabinoids in Patients with HIV-1 Infections
Donald Abrams, MD, et al. (2003) Annals of Internal Medicine. 139:258-266
Background: Cannabinoid use could potentially alter HIV RNA levels by two mechanisms: immune modulation or cannabinoid–protease inhibitor interactions (because both share cytochrome P-450 metabolic pathways).
Objective: To determine the short-term effects of smoked marijuana on the viral load in HIV-infected patients.
Conclusions: Smoked and oral cannabinoids did not seem to be unsafe in people with HIV infection with respect to HIV RNA levels, CD4
Our partners, Americans for Safe Access, provide additional information about the benefits of marijuana for HIV/AIDS patients