HIV Positive? Quit Smoking!

Smoking can triple the risk of death for HIV patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Smoking is bad for everyone, but for people with compromised immune systems like HIV patients—it’s even worse. Smoking cessation can improve HIV treatment plans.

A recent study attempted to determine the impact of smoking on HIV patients. Results showed there is a need for smoking cessation programs and counseling for HIV patients to prolong life expectancy.

"In a setting where HIV care is well organized and antiretroviral therapy is free of charge, HIV infected smokers lose more life-years to smoking than to HIV,” said authors.

"Talk to your doctor about quitting."

Marie Helleberg, MD, from the Department of Infectious Disease at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, led the investigation into the impact of smoking on HIV patients.

For the study, 2,921 HIV positive patients in free antiretroviral therapy groups and 10,642 non-HIV positive controls were followed from 1995-2010 to determine whether smoking effected mortality rates in HIV patients.

Death from all causes and non-AIDS-related deaths were higher in HIV positive patients who smoked compared to those who did not smoke. Mortality rate ratios were 4.4 times higher for all-cause deaths and 5.3 times higher for non-AIDS related deaths for smokers.

Overall, mortality rates during the study were 3.7 times higher for smokers vs. non-smokers.

Based on study calculations, life expectancy for a 35-year-old HIV patient was 62.6 years for a smoker and 78.4 years for a non-smoker.

Researchers estimated the average years of life lost for an HIV patient who smoked was 12.3 years compared to 5.1 years for a non-HIV smoker.

Risk of death associated with smoking was 62 percent for HIV patients and 34 percent for non-HIV smokers in the control group.

Authors said, “Our findings emphasize the importance of counseling HIV patients on smoking cessation as smoking may impact their life expectancy considerably more than the HIV infection itself.”

Authors recommend smoking cessation integration into HIV treatment plans.

This study was published in December in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Funding support was provided by the University of Copenhagen. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 18, 2012
Last Updated:
December 19, 2012