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Medical Marijuana for HIV & AIDS

For patients diagnosed with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), medical marijuana may be beneficial in easing some of the symptoms. HIV occurs when the cells in the bloodstream that make up the immune system become compromised by the virus and multiply. The disease attacks the immune system allowing for a person to contract a variety of opportunistic infections. This highly transmittable disease can be spread through unprotected sex, blood transfusions, contaminated needles, or during pregnancy or breastfeeding from mother to baby if the mother is infected with the virus. 

Some symptoms associated with an HIV diagnosis include: weakness, diarrhea, fever, chills, sweats, weight loss, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, mouth lesions, and rashes on the skin. 

Although there is no cure for HIV yet, there have been many pharmaceutical treatments that help decrease the viral load within the inflicted patient’s bloodstream and help prevent the virus from reproducing. However, many of these treatments can cause extremely harsh negative side effects associated with HIV. Medical marijuana is effective in treating the symptoms caused by many HIV medications, including nausea, lack of appetite, nerve pain, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

With many treatment options available today, including medical cannabis for HIV and AIDS,  it’s less common for HIV patients to experience all three stages of the virus. However, without treatment, most patients will likely encounter all three stages. 

Stage 1: Acute HIV Infection

This first stage is where the initial symptoms begin, if any, and they usually appear as typical flu symptoms but can last a few days to weeks. A patient who is newly HIV positive will be very contagious, as there is a considerable amount of the virus present in their blood. 

Stage: 2 Chronic HIV Infection

This is the chronic stage of the progression of HIV. Though patients may not have symptoms, they can still transmit the disease to others. If individuals with HIV take medications, the virus’ progression may be slowed down, and they may avoid stage three altogether. If the person doesn’t take medication for HIV, they may have an increased viral load leading to their CD4 cell count decreasing and causing an inability to fight sickness, leading to stage 3. 

Stage 3: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) 

In the final stage of the disease, patients may progress into AIDS -- the most severe type of HIV. By this stage, the patient’s immune system has been so badly damaged by the virus that the individual can no longer fight infections. This stage happens when the CD4 cell count drops below 200 cells. If an individual doesn’t get proper treatment, their life expectancy is about three years with an AIDS diagnosis. 

Medical marijuana for HIV and AIDS is used to alleviate the symptoms that come with this disease. Some studies have shown that not only may medical cannabis for HIV and AIDS ease anxiety and depression of patients, but the anti-inflammatory properties of medical marijuana may help slow the progression of HIV. Medical marijuana use also stimulates the appetite and appeases nausea helping with the symptom of weight loss that some extreme HIV and AIDS cases experience. Overall, medical cannabis for HIV and AIDS can improve the quality of life for patients who are HIV positive, as marijuana will have an uplifting effect on their mood. 

In the state of Illinois, HIV is a qualifying medical condition and patients with an HIV or AIDS diagnosis qualify to apply for a medical marijuana card. HIV and AIDS patients are able to obtain a medical marijuana card which grants them the ability to purchase medical cannabis from licensed marijuana dispensaries in Illinois. 

**Consult medical advice from a professional before self-medicating with medical marijuana for HIV and AIDS to treat the symptoms. This information should not replace the opinion of your doctor or medical professional for patients with HIV or AIDS.

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