Many people in the US living with HIV/AIDS have for long suffered with the disease alongside its illnesses.
The Human Immune Virus is a sexually transmitted infection that damages the immune system and interferes with the body’s ability to fight off organisms that cause disease. This can eventually lead to development of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
HIV can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to children or breast-feeding. Without treatment, AIDS patients live, on average, about 10 years before they succumb to the disease.
The HIV virus enters the bloodstream, then enters the cells that make up the immune system and multiplies. It attacks the immune system making it easier for a person to get a variety of illnesses known as opportunistic infections.
The anti-HIV drugs both reduce the viral load and the number of infection present in the blood stream. Some of the commonly prescribed drugs are used to help the body fight off opportunistic infections. Although these drugs are available to help slow down the virus, there is no cure to eliminate the virus from within the body. The major downside to antiretroviral therapy are adverse side effects that can be so depilating that “patients will often abandon their treatment.
Cannabis’ role in the HIV/AIDS related illnesses
Marijuana is widely recognized for its effectiveness in treating symptoms related to HIV/AIDS. Marijuana has been known to help reduce the following symptoms in HIV patients: Nausea, Lack of appetite, Nerve pain, Depression, Anxiety, Sleeping problems.
In addition to treatment of common symptoms of HIV and side effects of antiretroviral drugs, research indicates that cannabis may help fight HIV itself. An increasing number of scientific studies, are revealing antiviral effects of cannabis against HIV.
The effects of cannabis are as a result of interactions between cannabinoids and receptors located on many cells. These include macrophages (a tissue cell of the immune system), CD4 cells called cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2). Researchers at New York City’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine published data in 2012 demonstrating that stimulation of CB2 with compounds called cannabinoid receptor agonists can block the signaling process between HIV and CXCR4, one of the main types of receptors that allow HIV to enter and infect a cell. CXCR4 is used by HIV during advanced disease progression.
By stimulating activation of CB2 with cannabinoid receptor antagonists, Mount Sinai researchers decreased the ability of HIV to infect cells that utilize CXCR4, reducing the frequency of infected cells by 30 to 60 percent.
Cannabinoids may help prevent neurocognitive disorders
Macrophages are long-lived cells that are targeted by HIV and exist throughout the body. Macrophages are present in the blood and all organs, including in the brain. Some researchers hypothesize that these cells may be key to ongoing replication that creates inflammation, a damaging effect of overstimulation of the immune system. Inflammation can greatly contribute to many non-AIDS related illnesses, such as neurocognitive disorders, cardiovascular disease, bone disease, and some form of cancer.
The study authors found that anti-inflammatory compounds related to THC blind to CB2, effectively reducing viral replication and inflammation in the brain.
Many research studies by acclaimed medical institutions have found repeatedly, that Cannabinoids (components of Marijuana) are effective in treating AIDS conditions of; nausea, loss of appetite, anxiety, depression, wasting, and neuropathic pain. In addition, Medical Marijuana has anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties that aid in battling associated opportunistic conditions.
There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS. However, there are medications that can dramatically slow the progression of the disease. Cannabis has become an increasingly common prescription to help patients manage the often devastating symptoms of the disease and accompanying.