For Those with HIV, Cigarettes Have Become More Dangerous Than the Actual Virus

Aids-Virus, Bild: scrape TV
Aids-Virus, Bild: scrape TV
In 1982, when the CDC first began using the term AIDS, Philip Morris was in its 29th year of record-breaking profits. Despite decades of ever-increasing doomsaying, smoking was still pretty normal—a fact of life on airplanes and buses and in restaurants. Much of the world still bore a grody yellow tinge.

By Michael Byrne | MOTHERBOARD

An HIV infection then was a death sentence. HIV would certainly lead to AIDS, which would in turn open the body to catastrophic encounters with opportunistic infections. This picture began to change dramatically in mid-1990s with the advent of antiretroviral therapy (ART). HIV is now a manageable condition, requiring maintenance on par with, say, diabetes (as oft remarked), but otherwise allowing a pretty normal life. Cigarettes, meanwhile, are still cigarettes. They are about as deadly now as they were then.

According to a study out this week in the the Journal of Infectious Diseases, those with HIV infections who are also smokers are now more likely to die from smoking than anything related to HIV itself. In fact, among European populations smoking was found to reduce life expectancies among those with HIV by about twice as much HIV itself. In the US, where rates of HIV treatment adherence are generally worse, HIV and smoking are about equal in terms of (indirect) causes of death.

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