How Medical Cannabis Can Help Patients With HIV/AIDS

Michelle Weiner, DO, MPH

Written by and Michelle Weiner and her medical assistant Dagoberto J. Morales, B.S.

Human immunodeficiency virus, commonly referred to as HIV is a disease that hijacks and destroys the CD4+ cells of our immune system. The virus is mainly spread through unprotected sexual intercourse, contaminated blood transfusions, and needles. If left untreated, the virus will deplete our body of CD4+ cells and progress to AIDS. With a crippled immune system opportunistic infections causing tuberculosis, encephalitis, chronic diarrhea, pneumonia, meningitis and many more flourish.

The current treatment for HIV/AIDS requires that patients be placed on an HIV regimen, were a combination of antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications are taken daily. Of the estimated 30-43 million people globally living with HIV, around 20.9 million people worldwide were using ART. While ART drugs help to reduce the viral load by preventing the spread and reproduction of the virus, they come with various debilitating side effects such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and neuropathic pain. Due to the severity of these side effects, it is not uncommon for patients to discontinue pharmacological management for immediate relief. It is no secret that patients have long used cannabis to combat these symptoms, but recent studies show promise in Cannabis as a tool to help combat HIV/AIDS as well.

Hyper-activation of the immune system has been linked to the progression of HIV to AIDS, by depleting CD4 cells throughout our body. Luckily, a study published last year in the Journal of AIDS showed evidence that Tetrahydrocannabinol-(THC) and other components found in cannabis have immunosuppressant properties that help hinder our body’s aggressive immune response. This is accomplished by cannabis’s suppression of pDC-(Plasmacytoid dendritic cell), a type of CD4 cell which has been linked to the progression of the disease during prolonged activity. Another study from the Journal of biochemical pharmacology demonstrated that Denbinobin, another constituent found in marijuana can help to inhibit HIV replication.

According to the CDC’s latest surveillance report released in 2016, it was estimated that 39,513 people were diagnosed with HIV in the USA. That same year, 4,972 Floridians were diagnosed with the virus, coming in third highest in the country behind Louisianna and Georgia. On January, 2017, amendment 2, also known as the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative was passed. This allows for the use of medicinal marijuana for people with medical conditions such as cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, ALS, and multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS. In my medical opinion, there are thousands of HIV+ patients in the state of Florida that will surely benefit in a variety of ways from Cannabis by alleviating their symptoms and improving their quality of life.

Dr. Michelle Weiner is an interventional pain management physician for spine and wellness centers of America. She completed her residency and fellowship training at the University of Miami. She individualizes medical cannabis treatments based on patient specific factors with the goal of maximizing quality of life, decreasing overall pharmaceutical use and side effects. She is knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies and uses nutraceuticals and IV vitamin therapy to enhance one’s immune and nervous system and boost energy. Dr. Weiner’s practice also treats various other sources of pain.

Dr. Weiner has offices throughout South Florida, including locations in Miami, Hollywood, & Boca.
For more information, visit drmichelleweiner.com or call (305) 974-5533


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