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HIV and cigarettes
Nov 3, 2013

I was treated for Burkitt's Lymphoma three years ago. I am now considered cured and my lab readings are all good. I smoked cigarettes for thirty years prior to my diagnosis. The diagnosis caused me to finally quit for good. My doctors have determined that I do not have any irreversible damage. How long do you feel that it takes a person to recover from the effects of smoking? Does my HIV status have any effect on this process?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Congratulations on your good health reports and for giving up cigarettes, a notoriously difficult drug to quit. Many long term benefits of quitting have been documented, including lungs beginning to repair in the months afterwards. The CDC reports that one year after quitting cigarettes your risk of heart disease is lowered by 50%. They also report that 5-15 years after quitting your stroke risk is the same as someone who didn't smoke. After 10 years your risk of various cancers drops and after 15 years your risk of heart disease is the same as a non-smoker.

Many studies document the negative impact of smoking on various opportunistic infections among people living with HIV. I know of no studies that look at HIV and its effects on recovery after quitting, but you can be certain it is the much healthier option.

Take care,

-David



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