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Smoking could be worse for HIV patients than the virus itself, reports study

Patients with HIV who have access to antiretroviral drugs have a significant chance of living a normal life, but it may not be as simple for those who smoke. According to a recent Danish study appearing in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, patients infected with HIV will lose more years to smoking than they will to the actual virus, which sheds light on the importance of smoking cessation programs when treating the virus.

The study, conducted by Copenhagen University Hospital, examined the effects that smoking has on life expectancy, risk of death and number of years lost to smoking compared to the same factors for 3,000 patients infected with HIV between 1995 and 2010. Depending on a person's smoking status, life expectancies varied widely. For instance, a 35-year-old HIV patient who smoked has a life expectancy of 62.6 years, while a non-smoking HIV patient can expect to live for an average of 78.4 years.

When compared to the Danish population of HIV-free smokers and non-smoking HIV patients, the researchers concluded that the mortality rate among HIV-infected smokers is three times higher than those who did not participate in the activity.

According to U.S. News and World Report, of the 3,000 patients that the researchers followed throughout the study, 60 percent died from complications surrounding smoking rather than the HIV virus itself.

"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," Marie Helleberg, M.D., of Copenhagen University Hospital, told the news source.

The study is a landmark moment in the treatment of HIV and could dramatically improve the care outcomes and the quality of life of those who are infected with the disease.
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