Marijuana Efficacy As An HIV Self-Care Strategy

  • According to a new study published in Clinical Nursing Research, published by SAGE, those in the United States living with HIV/AIDS are more likely to use marijuana than those in Kenya, South Africa, or Puerto Rica to alleviate their symptoms.

    Individuals who did use marijuana rate it as effective as prescribed or OTC (over-the-counter) medicines for the majority of common symptoms, once again raising the issue that therapeutic marijuana use merits further study and consideration among policy makers. A significant population of HIV/AIDS patients uses marijuana as a symptom management approach for anxiety, depression, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, and peripheral neuropathy.

    Symptom management and quality of life experiences among those with HIV/AIDS in the US, Africa, and Puerto Rico were examined by members of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) International HIV/AIDS Nursing Research Network to gain a fuller picture of marijuana’s effectiveness and use in this population.

    The researchers with data from a longitudinal, multi-country, multi-site, randomized control clinical trial used four different evaluation tools to survey demographics, self-care management strategies for six common symptoms experienced by those living with HIV/AIDS, quality of life instrument, and reasons for non-adherence to medications. No differences between marijuana users and nonusers in age, race, and education level, income adequacy, having an AIDS diagnosis, taking ARV medications, or years on ARV medications were found by the researchers. Participants making use of marijuana as a management strategy were spread fairly consistent across all six symptoms, ranging from a low of 20 percent for fatigue to a high of 27 percent for nausea. Prescribed medications were used by 45 percent of those with fatigue, ranging down to almost 18 percent of those with neuropathy. It was revealed that marijuana was perceived to be more effective than either prescribed or OTC medications for nausea and neuropathy.

    “Given that marijuana may have other pleasant side effects and may be less costly than prescribed or OTC drugs, is there a reason to make it available?” asks study leader Inge Corless. “These are the political ramifications of our findings. Our data indicate that the use of marijuana merits further inquiry.”

    Marijuana Effectiveness as an HIV Self-Care Strategy by Inge B. Corless, Teri Lindgren, William Holzemer, Linda Robinson, Shahnaz Moezzi, Kenn Kirksey, Christopher Coleman, Yun-Fang Tsai, Lucille Sanzero Eller, Mary Jane Hamilton, Elizabeth F. Sefcik, Gladys E. Canaval, Marta Rivero Mendez, Jeanne K. Kemppainen, Eli H. Bunch, Patrice K. Nicholas, Kathleen M. Nokes, Pamela Dole and Nancy Reynolds is published in the May 2009 issue of Clinical Nursing Research (Volume 18, No. 2).


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