HIV and Smoking: Can Marijuana Help Alleviate HIV/AIDS Symptoms?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is acquired through bodily fluid contact with someone who already has the condition. If HIV is not treated properly, it can develop into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Often these two conditions are lumped together, as one leads to the other. However, they are two separate diagnoses.

In 2021, it was estimated that 38.4 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS.

There is not yet a cure for HIV/AIDS; it is a lifelong condition. However, medical advancements and new therapies have made it possible for individuals with this diagnosis to live healthy lives.

HIV impacts the immune system, making it difficult for the body to fight off infections. This can make common illnesses, such as the flu, extremely dangerous. The body’s immune system capabilities are typically measured through CD4 cell counts.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with HIV, know that there are many different treatment options available.

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What Causes HIV/AIDS?

HIV/AIDS is an STI caused by having contact with the bodily fluids of someone else who has the condition or through sharing unclean needles. 

Practicing safe sex, safe clean needle practice, and avoiding bodily fluids with others is the best way to prevent contracting HIV/AIDS. It is possible for individuals with HIV to have sexual partners. There are certain medications that both the individual with the diagnosis and their partner(s) can take in order to reduce risk and remain safe. 

HIV/AIDS Signs & Symptoms

If you have HIV/AIDS, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Lymph gland swelling
  • Memory loss
  • Pneumonia

How Cannabis Can Help Alleviate HIV/AIDS Symptoms

couple smiling on couch

The HIV/AIDS epidemic heavily influenced the legalization of cannabis, especially in places like California.

Many patients self-report cannabis use as helpful in managing the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, including reducing pain and alleviating anxiety. Cannabis can also provide appetite stimulation which can be helpful for those experiencing wasting syndrome as a result of their HIV diagnosis. Because many people with AIDS have lower body fat percentages, finding ways to increase appetite is significant.

While there is a reasonable amount of research on cannabis's ability to alleviate the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, more needs to be done to understand how cannabis interacts with the body and the condition. 

Although cannabis has been reported by HIV/AIDS patients to be beneficial for decades, more research is required if it’s to become a common medical recommendation for patients. 

Legality and Doctor’s Recommendation

To determine if your state considers HIV/AIDS to be a qualifying condition for medical marijuana, check out our Laws & Regulations section for the medical cannabis rules for your state.

If you find that your state recognizes HIV/AIDS or its symptoms as a qualifying medical condition, you can seek a doctor’s recommendation to get your medical cannabis card in your state.

How NuggMD Can Help

NuggMD is the nation's leading medical marijuana technology platform, serving patients in 22 states and growing. We’ve connected over 1,000,000 patients with their new medical marijuana doctors face-to-face via our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform. 

We believe that every human being has the right to explore the benefits of medical cannabis and are fully committed to helping each patient explore all of their options in their journey to wellness. For further information on whether you qualify for medical cannabis, select your state.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis & HIV/AIDS 

Will cannabis cure my HIV/AIDS?

No, cannabis is not a cure for HIV/AIDS. While it will not get rid of the condition, it can help with symptom management and provide comfort. 

I used cannabis when I was younger… Does that mean I’m more likely to get HIV/AIDS? 

No. Previous cannabis use will not make you more likely to contract HIV/AIDS. 

Is smoking with HIV bad? 

Smoking any substance can cause irritation or harm to the lungs. If you have HIV and you’re concerned about the effect that smoking may have on your lungs, consider trying edibles or another method of oral consumption. Edibles can be a great way to take care of your health and still get many of the benefits that cannabis can provide. 

Can I still use cannabis if I’m taking medication for HIV/AIDS?

It’s possible that cannabis may interact with certain medications. If you’re currently taking medication for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, speak with a medical professional before adding cannabis to your daily routine.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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We are a team of cannabis and technology professionals focused on connecting you with state-licensed doctors. We believe all people deserve access to medical cannabis if they think it might improve their quality of life. Since our founding in 2015, we’ve held ourselves and our partners to the highest standards to ensure every patient we serve is able to access reliable cannabis information, trustworthy medical practitioners, and proactive updates on the cannabis healthcare ecosystem and legislation that may affect their experience as a medical cannabis patient.

Whether you’re a cannabis connoisseur or thinking of becoming a first-time medical marijuana patient, our network of doctors will listen to your needs and give you an honest opinion about whether they think cannabis can help.

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