Smoking More Lethal for People with HIV

Government health departments and other independent health groups have been making continuous efforts to remind people about the harmful effects of smoking tobacco-related products.
Despite these efforts, hundreds of thousands of people across the globe continue to die from smoke-related diseases caused by smoking cigarettes.
Everyone knows that smoking kills. Most people know that smoking can cause lung (and throat) cancer, heart disease, infertility in women and respiratory infection.
Although people living with HIV are now living longer – studies have found that smoking can cut their life expectancy.
Danish researchers have found that smoking patients with HIV shorten their life expectancy compared to non-smoking patients living with HIV, even when they receive well-organised care that includes free antiretroviral therapy.
A new study published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal on December 19, 2012, found that HIV-positive patients who are on treatment but continue smoking, are more likely to die from tobacco-related disease than HIV/AIDS-related complications.
Dr Marie Helleberg of Copenhagen University Hospital and colleagues examined records of approximately 3 000 individuals with HIV who were treated in Denmark from 1995 to 2010. The patients had received good care and free access to antiretroviral therapy.
They found out that in places where HIV care is blended into health care, and antiretroviral therapy is available without cost, more than 60 percent of deaths among HIV patients are associated with smoking instead of AIDS.
The study noted that the years lost from smoking were twice as high as those lost from HIV.
Mortality of HIV patients, who were also smokers, was found to be three times greater than patients not diagnosed with HIV.
Furthermore, a Metanalysis of Cohort and case control studies published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine also point to the fact that current smokers with HIV were at double the risk of bacterial pneumonia than their non-smoking counterparts.
The metanalysis re-analysed the data of several thousand participants with HIV, from 14 studies based in USA, Europe and South Africa.
Overall, it appeared that current smoking was associated with a 70-100 percent increase in risk of bacterial pneumonia, compared to non-smokers, but that stopping smoking decreased this by about a third.
The media quoted Professor Paul Aveyard, from University of Oxford who led the study, saying: “Antiretroviral treatment means that people with HIV can have a normal life expectancy.
“However, they still have substantially increased health risks compared to the general population, including risk of pneumonia.
“Our results show that smokers with HIV have twice the risk of bacterial pneumonia, but that stopping smoking can reduce this risk.
“In order to prevent this potentially life-threatening lung disease we believe that smoking cessation programmes should be promoted as part of HIV treatment,” he said.
A study from the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides evidence tobacco smoking increases the risk of chronic lung disease for HIV-positive smokers.
The FDA said smoking further causes HIV drugs and medications not to work as well as they should and the HIV-positive smokers develop AIDS faster than non-smokers.
These studies show that smoking cessation should become part of counselling programmes for people living with HIV/AIDS. This is essential as smoking may have a negative impact on their life expectancy than the HIV infection.

February 2013
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