Study: Marijuana use doesn't affect HIV disease or its treatment

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 21 2003 12:00 AM ET

A study in the August 19 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that short-term use of marijuana or even cannabinoid capsules like Marinol does not accelerate HIV infection or hinder antiretroviral treatment, Reuters Health reports. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, studied 62 HIV-positive patients who were given marijuana cigarettes, cannabinoid pills, or a placebo for three weeks. All of the study subjects were on identical antiretroviral regimens. After three weeks none of the study subjects using marijuana or taking cannabinoid capsules experienced a drop in T-cell counts or rising viral loads. Marijuana users actually had slightly higher average T-cell counts than did study subjects receiving a placebo and had slightly lower average viral loads. The researchers conclude that short-term use of marijuana or cannabinoids to stimulate appetite or decrease nausea is not unsafe for HIV-positive people on antiretroviral regimens. Longer studies are ongoing.