`Pot,' `crack,' increases pneumonia in AIDS patients

Smoking marijuana or crack cocaine is significantly associated with an increase in the risk of bacterial pneumonia in people infected with HIV, according to a new study. Pneumonia is a major cause of death in people with AIDS.

In research supported by the National Institutes of Health, researcher Waleska Teixeria Caiaffa, M.D., and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, said doctors counseling HIV-infected persons should advise them of the link.

The U.S. Public Health Service has previously warned that irritants and contaminants of smoked marijuana may be harmful to people with HIV.

Marinol (dronabinol), a prescription drug containing a synthetic form of one of marijuana's active ingredients (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), was approved in 1992 to prevent weight loss in AIDS patients. (See "Marinol for AIDS Patients" in the AIDS Page section of the April 1993 FDA Consumer.) It was first approved in 1985 to treat nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.

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PHOTOS (2): Drawing of person covering their mouth with their hand; Human lung.

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