Marijuana use helps some HIV patients adhere to therapy
January 11 2005 1:00 AM ET
A new study in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes shows that HIV patients who treat nausea with medical marijuana adhere better to their antiretroviral therapy than those who take other antinausea treatments or take none at all. Researchers studied 168 HIV-positive adults--41 of whom used medical marijuana--to gauge adherence to anti-HIV drug regimens. Patients suffering from mild to severe nausea and who used medical marijuana were found to be far more likely to take their anti-HIV drugs as prescribed than similar HIV patients who did not smoke pot. However, the study also showed that marijuana use by HIV patients not experiencing nausea was linked with lower antiretroviral adherence.
The study is one of the first to show that marijuana use can help HIV-positive adults fight off the gastrointestinal side effects of anti-HIV medications and help them stick to regimens of the lifesaving drugs. "Adherence to medications is a challenge to any chronically ill patient and is critically important to HIV-infected individuals, as sustained high levels of adherence are required for long-term viral suppression," the researchers write.