HIV / AIDS
by Justin Freeland
What Is It?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus which can lead to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, better known as AIDS. Nearly 56,000 people in the U.S. have been infected since 2006. That equates to approximately 11,200 cases a year in North America alone. This may seem like a large figure, but pales in comparison to many African countries, where an estimated 22.5 million people live with HIV or AIDS.
HIV destroys specific blood cells in the body that are required to help the body fight off illnesses. AIDS is a late form of HIV when a person's immune system is extremely damaged and no longer able to fight off disease and cancers.
Where Did It Come From?
Scientists have tracked the source of the HIV infection in humans to chimpanzees. These chimpanzees carry a variant of the virus known as Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, which was then transmitted to humans through contact with the chimps meat. The disease has now spread throughout the world from Africa.
How Do I Know?
Within a few weeks of infection, many experience Flu like symptoms that last a week or two. Others have no symptoms at all. Some people may go years without any symptoms. However, HIV is still damaging the body, so it is important to be tested by your doctor.
How Is It Spread?
There are several ways HIV can spread. The following are some of the most common:
- Unprotected sex with someone who has HIV. Anal sex is more risky than vaginal sex. Oral sex carries a risk of transmission as well, but far lower than anal or vaginal sex. Multiple sex partners or partners with other STD's raise the risk of transmission.
- Sharing needles or other things used to prepare intravenous drugs.
- Transmission can occur when an infected mother gives birth or during breast-feeding.
- Blood to blood contact with someone infected with HIV.
- Unsafe tattooing and piercing practices.
I've Heard There Are Other Ways?
Many people have been told myths about other ways that it can be spread. However, a lot of this information is outright untrue and originates more out of fear and lack of knowing about the disease than anything else.
So how can it not be spread?
- Through water or air.
- Insects (including mosquitoes - there are other nasty things from them).
- Bodily fluids like saliva, tears or sweat (unless mixed with blood).
- Shaking hands with an infected person.
- Closed mouth kissing.
Medical Marijuana & HIV/AIDS
Marijuana is beneficial in the treatment of symptoms related to HIV in many ways. Heavy indicas are great for treating nausea, pain and insomnia. Patients troubled by fatigue and depression benefit greatly from the uplifting effects of Sativa dominant strains.
Personally, I would recommend a strong hybrid like Bruce Banner#3 or Sour Kush. This is because hybrids offer a wider range of cannabinoids and can relieve a larger array of symptoms than a straight indica or sativa.