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Alcohol & smoking
May 4, 2006

Dear Dr

I'm positive since few months.. still not on meds (VL 88000 & CD4 700), waiting one more month for another test to see when to start meds. My question is about certain habits that i have: 1) Smoking.. I do smoke about 10 cigarettes / day, specially now i'm positive, i feel i need this to keep me calm.. what are the needs to stop? is it highly recommended? or its just as a normal negative guy? 2) i do go out in the weekends, & i do drink in the clubs, & sometimes (once / month) i do take some trendy drugs (Ectasy).. I know that drugs will reduce my immune system..but how far is this bad?

I do sport, i try to eat more & more healthy since my dignosis... but still i feel that i need to go out & keep contact with my friends in a normal way... this help me fighting any possible depression What to do u think? Thanks

Response from Dr. Wohl

I generally recommend to people living with HIV that to be successful in their fight against the virus that need to adopt the philosophy of an athlete. Everything you put into to your body, food, drink, drugs, medication, penises - all must go through a simple test: is this good or bad in my fight against HIV? If it does not pass teh test, forget it.

While a few drinks on occassion should not damage your immune system or liver, regular heavy drinking can. Smoking, also can impair the immune function of cells in your lungs. Both can lead to early death and what is the use of keeping you free from AIDS if you end up getting sick or worse due to alcohol and/or smoking.

Certainly, I can understand that this may not be the best moment to quit smoking. But, give yourself a target date (a year from now?) when you expect to have quit and work toward that goal.

You can still enjoy life and it is important that you do. But, getting drunk and doing ectasy sounds more like an escape from life than an embrace of it. You can still hang out with friends, enjoy playing sports, and other healthy activities, of course. Chances are you will feel better and in teh long run remain healthier. As you suggest, you may be depressed and getting help for this may be the most important thing you can do as part of dealing with HIV.

DW



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