STUDY: Want To Live Longer With HIV? Quit Smoking

SmokerHave you made a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking in 2013? Research out of Denmark indicates that smoking cessation improves the life expectancy of HIV-positive people more than anything this side of anti-viral drugs.

It’s a bitter irony: With advances in treatment, people with HIV are living longer and healthier lives. But with HIV-positive people more likely to smoke than HIV-negative folks, too many are dying from heart disease, lung cancer and other cigarette-related illnesses.

According to the UK site AIDSmap, Danish researchers studied nearly 3,000 HIV-positive people and discovered nearly half (47%) sucked on coffin nails, compared to 18% who were former smokers and 35% who never smoked.

Accounting for other variables, the mortality rate for HIV-positive smokers was 18 per 1,000 patient years. “The loss of life-years associated with smoking was larger than that associated with HIV,” write the study’s authors in Clinical Infectious Disease. “HIV-infected smokers with long-term engagement in care lose more life-years to smoking than HIV.”

Here’s the math:

The risk of non-HIV-related death was five-fold higher for current smokers compared to HIV-infected patients who had never smoked. HIV-positive patients who were current smokers also had a fourfold increase in their risk of all-cause mortality.

The risk of death due to cardiovascular disease was approximately two times higher for HIV-positive current smokers compared to HIV-positive non-smokers. Current smokers were also three times more likely to die of cancer.

The authors calculated that 35-year-old non-smokers [with HIV]  had a life expectancy of 78 years. This compared to a life expectancy of 69 years for former smokers, and a life expectancy of just 63 years for current smokers.

So put down the smokes: You’re not kicking HIV’s ass just to fall prey to some butts.