Could the cannabis industry help those living with HIV/AIDS?

cannabis plant

On 1 December, it’s World AIDS Day – which raises awareness, shows support for the 38 million people worldwide living with HIV, and remembers the 35 million lives claimed around the world by it, which has made it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. 

HIV, also known as ‘human immunodeficiency virus’ damages immune system cells, making it harder for people to fight everyday infections and disease. After 2-6 weeks of contracting the virus, up to 80% of people have 1-2 weeks of common, flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature, sore throat and body rash, alongside tiredness, swollen glands, as well as joint and muscle pain. After this, symptoms may not happen again for years, but with an early diagnosis and treatment, most people won’t go on to develop AIDS-related illnesses. 

If not, the virus will continue to damage the immune system, causing AIDS, which is also known as ‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome’. This is illnesses and potentially life-threatening infections that happen when the immune system’s been severely damaged by the HIV virus. Depending on the person, this can take up to 10 years to happen, leading to symptoms such as weight loss, chronic diarrhoea, night sweats, skin problems, recurrent infections and serious life-threatening illnesses. (Source: NHS)

Thanks to science and medical experts, incredible drug treatments have helped people live long and healthy lives with HIV. And within the cannabis industry, early studies have shown how it could help.

According to a 2012 article called, The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabis and Cannabinoids, all studies reported to date have shown a positive effect of dronabinol and cannabis cigarettes in the treatment of HIV patients with poor appetite. During a six-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with 139 patients, dronabinol (2 × 2.5 mg) helped keep patients’ body weight the same, while those taking the placebo lost weight. And in a different group study, 50 patients with HIV-associated neuropathic pain, who smoked cannabis cigarettes, found their pain had reduced by a mean 34%. 

While more studies need to be done, we’re hoping the industry has the potential to help those living with the HIV virus, and that one day, there’ll hopefully be a cure. 

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