HIV: A cause for AIDS
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus which can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome; AIDS. It makes the body’s immune system weak and thus hinders its ability to fight infections. A weak immune system makes body’s cell more susceptible to develop cancer, leukemia, pneumonia, liver failure and other life-threatening conditions.
The virus has infected around 35 million people in the world since 1980. Of these, about 1.1 million of people in the US are living with AIDS presently. The disease has caused the death of around 20000 Americans in the year 2014.
This draws the attention of the researchers to find and develop the best alternative to lessen its effect.
The activity of the HIV in the human body
A virus once enters the human body makes several copies and enter into almost every part including bone marrow and brain. Thus, it does not leave the patient’s body completely, even with treatment. However, its effect can be decreased by using various drugs available. Antiretroviral (ARV) drug are prescribed to suppress the activity of the virus. But these drugs do not affect the HIV copies residing in the brain and also have some considerable side-effects associated with its long-term use like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakened bones, and neuropathic pain.
Cannabis as an approach towards treating HIV/AIDS.
The researchers are looking for the better solution to reduce or suppress the activity of the virus in the body. Some scientific studies revealed that marijuana could manage the symptoms and effects associated with HIV. They are now moving forward to study the favorable effects of cannabis on HIV patients. They are able to design a drug using cannabis that targets an area in the body where the ARV fails to reach.
People infected with HIV in the US are depending more and more on cannabinoid-based therapies to reduce the effect of HIV infection. One out of three patients is opting cannabis to fight HIV/AIDS due to its incredible effect. It also helps in treating the conditions associated with ARV consumption like depression, nausea, pain, sleeping problems and weight loss.
How does the cannabis work?
Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) are the immune cells that are responsible for the activation of B-cells (antibody producing cell). They play a crucial role in host antiviral immune response. On interacting with HIV, its number decreases in the blood. This results in increasing the activity of the virus and ultimately it progresses towards AIDS.
THC in cannabis combat the effect of HIV by dampening pDC activation. This suppresses the PDC function during the early phase of interaction between the host and the virus. Thus, preventing the condition from getting worse.
Before the legalization of cannabis in the state of US, the doctors used to prescribe a synthetic pill Marinol, containing THC to reduce the effect of HIV. But the medicine lacks other components of the plant like cannabinoids and terpenoids that play their significant role in decreasing HIV/AIDS effect.
Thus, inhaling cannabis proved to be more fruitful for the patients. It also produces a large number of CD4 and CD8 cells in the body that fights against the virus in the body.
Cannabis not only helps in reducing the symptoms and side effects of HIV but also show some promising effect in inhibiting the progression of HIV/AIDS.
Cannabis also increases the frequency of appetite hormones in the blood of HIV patients. One of the studies published in 2004, proves that there is a substantial increase in food intake of the HIV/AIDS patient who smokes cannabis around four times a day.
What’s Next –
More and more Americans are now choosing cannabis to get relief from the many chronic medical conditions including AIDS. The people have observed many benefits opting it, as it is less expensive than other available drugs. So, far it has not shown any side-effects. Many research institutes and biotech companies are working with an aim to utilize more benefits from cannabis.
Nothing is worse than dying before actual death. Most of the HIV patients face this in their lives. But marijuana treatment gives a ray of hope to get better. It is believed that it cannot fully treat, but can reduce the effect of the HIV to much extent. But before opting for this, one should consult a physician regarding its use.