"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," says Krishna Reddy, MD, of the MGH Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and the Medical Practice Evaluation Center, who led the study.
‘Smoking cessation should be a key part of the care of people living with HIV to improve both their lifespan and quality of life.’
Scientists used epidemiologic data to estimate the average lifespans of people living with HIV depending on whether they were current, former or never smokers.
Findings of the Study
- 40-year-old person who receives HIV care but does not follow recommended treatment; smoking shortens the expected lifespan by more than 6 years compared with a non-smoker
- For a person who adheres well to antiretroviral treatment, smoking shortens lifespan by more than 8 years - about double the impact of HIV itself.
- For smokers, when they enter HIV treatment regimen, quitting smoking, particularly at younger ages, was shown to reverse life expectancy by more than 8 years - about double the impact of HIV itself.
Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH of the MGH Division of Infectious Diseases, senior author of the study, says, "It is time to recognize that smoking is now the primary killer of people with HIV who are receiving treatment."
Reddy adds, "Unfortunately, smoking cessation interventions have not been widely incorporated into HIV care. Given how common smoking is among people with HIV, now is the time to change that." Reddy is an instructor in Medicine, Baggett is an assistant professor of Medicine and Walensky is a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The report is being published online in the Journal of Infectious Diseases