HIV is a serious health condition. Untreated, it can lead to AIDS, which is fatal. Once a person has HIV, it will never leave their body. HIV affects the body’s immune system, so that it can no longer fight off infections.
Current HIV treatments offer effective protection against the virus, so that people with the virus are living for longer, but people who have HIV remain especially susceptible to the risks of smoking.
Compared with other smokers, they are more likely to experience:
•White mouth sores
•Pneumocystis pneumonia, a dangerous lung infection
•Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
•Heart disease and stroke
•Lung cancer and other types of cancer.
Findings showed that in people with HIV who follow their treatment correctly, smoking decreases their life expectancy by about twice as much as HIV does.
For men with HIV, the loss of life expectancy for HIV and for smoking was similar, whether or not they followed their treatment regime.
Male smokers who started HIV treatment at the age of 40 years stood to lose 6.7 years of life expectancy, and women, 6.3 years, compared with those who never smoked. Men who quit smoking and started treatment at 40 years would regain 5.7 years of life, and women, 4.6 years.
The authors conclude that people with HIV who follow their treatment but also smoke are far more likely to die of a smoking-related disease than from HIV itself.
They call for smoking cessation to be prioritized for patients with HIV. Helping them to quit smoking could significantly improve their life expectancy