WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) — Cigarette smoking may shorten the lifespan of people living with HIV more than the AIDS virus itself, a U.S. study said Thursday.
“A person with HIV who consistently takes anti-HIV medicines but smokes is much more likely to die of a smoking-related disease than of HIV,” study author Krishna Reddy of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School said in a statement.
The widespread use of antiviral medications today allows people with HIV to live longer, but smoking puts them at high risk for heart disease, cancer, serious lung diseases, and other infections, according to the study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
In their study, the researchers used a computer simulation of HIV disease and treatment to project the life expectancy of people living with HIV based on their smoking status.
For people with HIV who adhere well to HIV medicines, the study found that smoking reduces life expectancy by more than eight years, about double the impact of HIV itself.
For a 40-year-old person who receives care for HIV but continues to smoke, smoking shortens his or her expected lifespan by more than six years, compared with a nonsmoker who is similarly not perfectly adherent to antiviral treatment.
“It is well-known that smoking is bad for health, but we demonstrate in this study just how bad it is,” Reddy said.
For those who are smokers when they enter treatment for HIV, quitting smoking, particularly at younger ages, was shown to reverse much of the loss of life expectancy.
“We show that even people who have been smoking till age 60 but quit at age 60 have a substantial increase in their life expectancy compared to those who continue to smoke,” Reddy said. “So it’s never too late to quit.”