Cannabis use in HIV for pain and other medical symptoms

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2005 Apr;29(4):358-67. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2004.07.011.


Despite the major benefits of antiretroviral therapy on survival during HIV infection, there is an increasing need to manage symptoms and side effects during long-term drug therapy. Cannabis has been reported anecdotally as being beneficial for a number of common symptoms and complications in HIV infections, for example, poor appetite and neuropathy. This study aimed to investigate symptom management with cannabis. Following Ethics Committee approval, HIV-positive individuals attending a large clinic were recruited into an anonymous cross-sectional questionnaire study. Up to one-third (27%, 143/523) reported using cannabis for treating symptoms. Patients reported improved appetite (97%), muscle pain (94%), nausea (93%), anxiety (93%), nerve pain (90%), depression (86%), and paresthesia (85%). Many cannabis users (47%) reported associated memory deterioration. Symptom control using cannabis is widespread in HIV outpatients. A large number of patients reported that cannabis improved symptom control.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Cannabis*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Drug Therapy
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / drug therapy
  • Nausea / epidemiology
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Phytotherapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Cannabinoids
  • Plant Preparations