Study: Smoking proves deadlier for HIV patients

A recent study by researchers in Denmark found that HIV patients who receive good care but are also smokers will lose more years of life to smoking than to HIV.

Marie Helleberg, a researcher from Copenhagen University Hospital, and her team studied approximately 3,000 HIV patients treated in Denmark from 1995 to 2010. The researchers looked at patients who received well-organized care with free antiretroviral therapy access. More than 60 percent of the deaths that occurred were the result of smoking as opposed to HIV, HealthDay reports.

The research also determined that there were major differences in life expectancy in HIV patients who smoked and nonsmokers, finding that a 35-year-old smoker had a life expectancy of 63 years, compared with an expectancy of 78 years for a nonsmoking patient of the same age.

Helleberg's team found that the loss of years of life connected with smoking was twice as high as the loss connected with HIV. There was also a three times higher risk of death among HIV patients who smoked versus nonsmokers with HIV.

Helleberg said the study shows how important smoking cessation counseling can be in long-term care for HIV.

"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," Helleberg said, according to HealthDay.

The study did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship between nonsmoking and longer life in HIV patients.

The findings were published in Clinical Infectious Diseases on December 19.