HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a viral infection transferred by bodily fluids. HIV infection leads to AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. This condition creates a state in the body in which life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers can thrive.
Global estimates for people living with the condition in 2016 were 36.7 million, and 1.8 million of those were children born infected. UNAIDS’s reported that, in the same year, 1 million people died because of AIDS and nearly 2 million more became infected with HIV.
In the U.S., according to the CDC, HIV diagnosis fell 10% in the years between 2010 and 2014, but in 2015 they rose up to almost 40,000 new HIV infections for the year. In the same year almost 20,000 HIV patients were diagnosed with AIDS, and in the year prior, 6,721 people died from HIV and AIDS.
HIV is spread primarily by unprotected sex, contaminated blood infusion, hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Saliva and tears do not transmit HIV.
HIV is a part of the genus Lentivirus, which are types of viruses known for their long incubation period and association with causing chronic illnesses. After the initial infection, there may or may not be a short period of influenza-like illness, and then a prolonged time without any symptoms.
The HIV virus infects human immune cells, like the helper T cell CD4+. As the virus continues its infection, more immune cells are lost, and eventually, the body’s immune system is unable to defend against dangerous viruses and diseases, leading to a diagnosis of AIDS and 9 to 11 years average left to live.
HIV and AIDS patients can battle their diagnosis with a healthy diet and lifestyle, but will likely need to treat and prevent many types of respiratory infections and cancers as well. Estimates show that around 60% of people with HIV use various forms of complementary alternative medicines and treatments.
For HIV and AIDS patients, doctors begin a treatment called HAART therapy, or highly active antiretroviral therapy. Large portions of patients have difficulty adhering to the complex drug regimens and adverse effects of the treatment that negatively affect most of the body’s major organs and systems of wellness.
Gastrointestinal side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and GI pain and cramps. These types of problems can interfere with absorbing food, water, and medications, leading to dehydration, disruptions in brain and body chemistry, malnutrition, and weight loss. Synthetic antiemetic drugs are often co-prescribed.
HAART also causes mental and neurological adversities in HIV and AIDS patients. Some nucleoside analog drugs and protease inhibitors can lead to the development of neuropathy and paresthesias. Anti-HIV drugs can also induce headaches and cognitive difficulties. Other side effects include damage to the liver, pancreas, kidneys, blood, and cause skin problems, as well as metabolic issues resulting in increased risks of heart attacks.
Some drugs alter brain chemistry, affecting mood and causing depression or anxiety. The drug, Sustiva, is associated with nightmares, and others are known for causing insomnia. Other reports suggest that some anti-HIV drugs induce fatigue, sensations of sickness, anorexia, myopathy, and joint pain.
There are many ways in which medical marijuana can help patients manage the harsh symptoms of treatment side effects of HIV and AIDS. Cannabis can help increase metabolism and stimulate appetite, and [THC] has also been correlated with weight gain. Compounds derived from cannabis have antiemetic properties, which can alleviate nausea.
Many studies have also shown that medical marijuana can treat the acute and chronic pain of patients. Research also points to cannabis being safe for HIV infected people, in that it’s associated with increased immune cell CD4+ without increased risk of liver fibrosis, unlike HAART.
Interesting new studies into [cannabinoids] and HIV suggest that further research may result in the discovery of new antiviral drugs that can mitigate AIDS-associated symptoms. Interestingly, we’ve known since 2012 that the use of cannabinoid drugs in patients with HIV is associated with an increase, rather than a decrease, in CD4+ T cell number and has been shown to reduce viral load in SIV infected rhesus macaques.
Medical marijuana can help alleviate the pain, anxiety, and depression of coping with HIV and AIDS diagnosis and treatments and advancing cannabis research may produce better medicines for controlling the virus in the future. Marijuana will affect individuals differently; consult with a physician and medical marijuana professional about using cannabis and find linked below strains that have been reported to help others with HIV and AIDs symptoms and treatment side effects.
· [[Jock Horror]]
· [[Lemon Bubble]]
· [[OG Ringo]]
· [[Reclining Buddha]]
· [[Special Kush #1]]