27 July 2017

'Use dagga every day,' doctors tell HIV patients

Cannabis use could have a protective benefit on the liver of patients co-infected with hepatitis C and HIV.


Research presented on Wednesday at the 9th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science taking place in Paris this week suggests daily cannabis use could have a protective benefit on the liver of patients co-infected with hepatitis C and HIV.

Marijuana may protect the liver

Conducted by the French National Agency for AIDS Research (ANRS), the study investigated the impact of marijuana use on the risk of hepatic steatosis (abnormal presence of fat in the liver).

According to the United States-based health research organisation Mayo Clinic, fat in the liver can cause inflammation, scarring and irreversible damage. It said, at its most severe, the condition can progress to liver failure.

Of the 838 patients enrolled in the study 14% reported using weed every day. Daily use was found to be associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of steatosis, which was not found in less frequent cannabis users.

More research is needed

Dr Patrizia Carrieri, a researcher at the French National Institute of Health and Medical research, said that more research is needed on the interactions between using psychoactive substances and liver disease progression to confirm any findings.

“The ANRS cohort data obviously cannot be used to recommend the consumption of any substance or product to HIV and hepatitis C co-infected patients. However, it would certainly be useful for clinicians to take into account their patients’ consumption behaviours when making a clinical evaluation,” she said. – Health-e News.


Ask the Expert

HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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