Condition Overview

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a group of diseases resulting from disruption to the immune system caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1 million people in the U.S. are infected with the disease and more than 36 million people around the world have died from it since its discovery in 1981.

The most common treatment regimens prescribed to AIDS patients are made up of powerful pharmaceuticals that come with many debilitating side effects of their own, including extreme nausea, cachexia and depression. In 2007, the journal AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV reported that up to 60 percent of AIDS patients use medical marijuana without a physician’s recommendation because of how beneficial it is in the treatment of symptoms.

Real Life Stories

Henry J Sizluski Jr. credits marijuana with helping him survive more than 20 years with HIV/AIDS, and with a better quality of life. He was able to stop taking pain medication that was making him dizzy and made it hard for him to walk. His neuropathy improved to the point where he said it was “not only tolerable but more than tolerable.” And he was able to regain some weight that he lost during a health crisis. “I started smoking more marijuana, I’m eating more, I started to put weight on….It has changed my life for the better.”


Cannabis Use in HIV for Pain and Other Medical Symptoms

Cannabidiol inhibits growth and induces programmed cell death in kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus-infected endothelium

Cannabis in painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy

Smoked Medicinal Cannabis for Neuropathic Pain in HIV: A Randomized, Crossover Clinical Trial

Interesting Fact

For patients suffering from appetite loss, nausea and pain caused by AIDS, medical cannabinoid drugs may offer more symptom relief than any other single medication. That was the conclusion of a study conducted by the White House and the Institute of Medicine in 1999.