All About HIV/AIDS

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It’s a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. If left untreated, it turns into AIDS. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

Symptoms

Many patients go undiagnosed of both HIV and AIDS for many years because they believe they’re not feeling any severe symptoms. As a virus, about a month after you contract the disease you just feel flu-like symptoms for a short period of time. It may only last a few days, confusing patients for the actual flu or even allergies.

These symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers

Even more so, some patients get absolutely no symptoms at all. You then enter a period called clinical latency. During this stage typically no symptoms are felt. It can last anywhere from 10 years to 25 years. During this time, however, the virus is still multiplying and you’ll be extremely contagious. Treatment can keep patients in latency virtually forever. But when untreated, the last stage is AIDS.

At this point, the virus will have weakened your immune system beyond repair and even something as minor as a common cold can easily take your life. Symptoms of AIDS include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Recurring fever or profuse night sweats
  • Extreme and unexplained tiredness
  • Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
  • Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
  • Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals
  • Pneumonia
  • Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
  • Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders

Causes of HIV

HIV is considered an infection and is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. You can contract it from contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. Most people get the virus by having unprotected sex with someone who is already infected. Another common way of getting it is by sharing drug needles with someone who is infected. This happens because of the transfer of blood.

Prognosis

The prognosis in patients with untreated HIV is pretty bleak. The overall mortality rate is more than 90%. The average time from contraction to death is about 8-10 years. When patients are treated, they’re known now to have the same mortality as the average population where they live.

Medical Marijuana and HIV/AIDS

This disease cannot be cured but medical marijuana eases symptoms to give patients a better quality of life. MM helps ease the anxiety and depression in patients. It can also help with both insomnia and fatigue as well as appetite. Additionally:

  • In one study, researchers gave surveys to 565 people with HIV. Most of those who said they use marijuana reported that their nerve pain got better.
  • The FDA has approved the use of dronabinol (Marinol), a THC-containing prescription drug, to stimulate appetite in people with HIV.

Marijuana strains that help with associated proteins and anxiety include:

  • Prevention: This indica-dominant strain relieves anxiety and promotes a good night’s sleep along with after-effects that lessen mood swings in the morning and increase your appetite in time for breakfast.
  • Strawberry Milkshake: This hybrid strain is 50/50, leaving muscles relaxed and politely tranquilizes overactive, racing minds. 
  • Green Crack: This sativa is known for its energetic and cerebral effects. It’s helpful in treating pain and fatigue.

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Already have a diagnosis ? To book an appointment for your Ohio Medical Marijuana Card, click here.

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