For years, scientists were trying to find a cure for HIV. There is a chance, that they have already found it—in cannabis. According to recent studies, the chemicals compounds in marijuana may reduce pain, prevent the brain from HIV-related damage, and even stop the virus from spreading through the body. So, there will be no surprise if one day doctors will start prescribing THC pills instead of or in combination with traditional antiretrovirals (ARV's).
There are a few studies that show that cannabis may be beneficial for those with HIV/AIDS and/or HIV-related diseases. In 1999, there was a study that concluded that cannabinoid drugs “might offer broad-spectrum relief” for patients with AIDS, cancer patients after a course of chemotherapy, and those who suffer from severe pain, nausea, and the loss of appetite. Moreover, the report states that the effects caused by cannabinoid drugs cannot be reached by any other single medication.
In 2007, a study conducted by the Pain Clinical Research Center of the University of California concluded that medical marijuana can reduce the level of HIV-associated neuropathy by over 30 percent. The most significant relief was achieved by the patients who consumed medical weed three times a day or more.
Six years later, in 2013, a group of scientists from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine of the Temple University School of Medicine found that a synthetic form of THC can re-wire cells affected by HIV. The researchers suggested that medical cannabis may be used in association with the standard antiretroviral therapy.
In 2014, there was a clinical study conducted by Dr. Patricia Molina from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. The study showed that THC can strengthen the immune system of the monkeys infected with SIV, the primate equivalent of HIV. After 17 months of THC-based therapy, the damage, caused by the virus to the immune tissue of the gut of the infected monkeys has decreased. The scientists have also found evidence that THC causes these changes at the gene level.
In 2015, Cannabis Science, Inc., a U.S. pharmaceutical company that develops cannabis-based medicine, announced signing a deal with IGXBio, another pharmaceutical company that is currently working on an FDA Investigational New Drug (IND) called GenePro. It is a DNA-based drug that affects SIV and HIV at the gene level.
Cannabis Science, on the other hand, is also working on at least three cannabis-based drugs that are meant to help HIV-positive patients deal with the side effects of both the virus and its standard treatment. In contrast to traditional medications used to manage HIV/AIDS, cannabinoid-based medicines may be effective even for the drug-resistant types of HIV. Moreover, according to the Cannabis Science professionals, marijuana-based treatment may help the drugs wok inside the brain and prevent it from further damage, which is impossible with the traditional HIV drugs.