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HIV and smoking?
Aug 19, 2005

My son is HIV positive and healthy. He has all good habits except for smoking - he hasn't quit yet and he is 3 years into being positive. I think because he feels so healthy that he doesn't think this will be harmful - how important is it that he quit as soon as possible? Thank you.

Response from Dr. Pierone

It is important for everyone to quit smoking. Smoking is right up there among the dumbest things that humans do. Smoking accelerates progression of HIV infection to AIDS. Smoking causes lung cancer, and especially so in people with HIV infection. Smoking increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Last year a long-term patient of mine with HIV infection (45 years old) with a 3 pack per day smoking habit had a stroke that left half of his body partially paralyzed. For years I had tried to get him to quit smoking (not in a mean way, but pointing out the health risks), but this stroke got his attention and his life will never be the same. Interestingly, his take on this stroke was that some Vioxx he took for back pain (but had stopped 3 months before the stroke) was the actual cause. He can't find an attorney to take his Vioxx case, but I don't think he is even a bit peeved at Phillip Morris.

In the last 6 months, 3 long-term patients of mine with HIV (all smokers in 40s and 50s) were diagnosed with lung cancer, 2 are dead, and the third is dying. All had well controlled HIV undetectable viral load and reasonable CD4 cells. What a sad and terrible waste. So as a mother, use what ever positive influence you can to help your son quit smoking.



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