The number of people in poor countries taking AIDS drugs - about 1.4 million - rises by tens of thousands every week. But also in the US the rate of infections remains unacceptable for over 15 years. Finding new ways to reduce this number was one of the main goals of this years International AIDS Conference..
This week 20,000 people gather in Toronto for the 16th International AIDS Conference, where a light scent of marijuana wafted among the exhibits. This because activists took advantage of Canada’s relatively pot-friendly policies to make a pitch for this drug as a pain-killer.
The Medical Marijuana Information Resource Center sponsored an exhibit along with the Canadian AIDS Society. 'This is the first time that an exhibit of this kind has been at the AIDS conference,' said Hilary Black, spokeswoman for MMIRC. 'It's possible that it may be the only time, until we see a global shift around the policies governing this plant.'
The group has been passing out information on legal access and tips on the use of cannabis as a medicine and dealing with reactions from conference participants who have come from around the world.
It has been scientifically proven that marijuana can ease some types of severe and chronic pain as well as other symptoms that occur with severe diseases such as AIDS. Another pro argument is that it gives fewer side effects than most prescription drugs.
Marijuana use is not generally legal in Canada; the government runs a medical marijuana program. However, only about a quarter of medical marijuana users infected with HIV gets their cannabis through legal sources, Black said.
In the United States, the use of medical marijuana has long been contested on the state and federal level. A bill that would have allowed the medical use of the herb was rejected in early June. But efforts are under way in several states to legalize marijuana use.
Sources: MAPS and Hightimes