Medical Marijuana and HIV/AIDS

A large number of Americans who use medical marijuana have HIV or AIDS. Medical marijuana alleviates symptoms of HIV/AIDS and debilitating side effects of antiretroviral medications (ARVs).

Get a medical marijuana certification

Florida patients are eligible to receive a medical marijuana recommendation for HIV/AIDS.

What is HIV/AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infectious disease that attacks the body’s immune system. The virus enters white blood cells called T-helper, or CD4 cells, and makes copies of itself, then destroys them. As more and more CD4 cells die, the body is less and less able to fight off infections and diseases, including meningitis, pneumonia, encephalitis, tuberculosis, chronic diarrhea, and cancers.

Left untreated, HIV develops into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS eventually results in death, either from an infection, or from a wasting syndrome known as cachexia. The speed at which the disease progresses depends on the age, health, and background of the patient.

A person infected with HIV is said to be HIV-positive. The is no cure for HIV, but the  virus can be controlled with a combination of antiretroviral medications (ARVs) that allow people with HIV to live longer lives, and reduce the risk of HIV transmission. ARVs, and other medications prescribed for HIV patients have side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, and loss of appetite, that make life unpleasant.

From working with AIDS and cancer patients, I repeatedly saw how marijuana could ameliorate a patient’s debilitating fatigue, restore appetite, diminish pain, remedy nausea, cure vomiting and curtail down-to-the-bone weight loss.

– Kate Scannell, MD, Co-Director of Kaiser-Permanente Northern California Ethics Department

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

Soon after become infected with HIV, many people experience flu-like symptoms which go away after a few weeks. Then they might not experience noticeable symptoms for years, until the disease is advanced. For this reason, it is important to get tested if you think you might have HIV.

Early symptoms of HIV include:

  • Fever and night sweats
  • Skin problems, sores, and rashes
  • Infections
  • Swollen glands
  • Frequent yeast infections that are hard to cure
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Advanced symptoms of HIV include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Severe headache
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Mental confusion and short-term memory loss

The transition from HIV to AIDS is often marked by the appearance of certain cancers such as Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and by devastating infections.

How medical marijuana helps with HIV/AIDS

Both scientific studies and surveys of HIV and AIDS patients who use medical marijuana suggest that medical marijuana helps relieve symptoms, as well as the unpleasant side effects of HIV medications. In one survey, HIV/AIDS patients using medical marijuana were 3.3 times more likely to keep up with their medications.

Medical cannabis can:

  • Relieve pain, especially neuropathic pain
  • Stop nausea and vomiting
  • Stimulate appetite, counteracting wasting syndrome (cachexia) by helping the patient gain weight
  • Relieve depression and anxiety

Every person is unique. Some HIV patients require only a small dose, and some people find high-THC marijuana too strong. Consult a qualified physician who can evaluate your situation and monitor your response.

Get medical marijuana for HIV/AIDS

Now Florida patients can use the alternative medical marijuana treatment to help with HIV/AIDS.

External Resources

Please click on the following links below to learn more about HIV/AIDS.

Further Reading

Please click on the following links below to read more about HIV/AIDS and medical marijuana.


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Have Questions?

If you have questions about medical marijuana contact a certified doctor today!

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