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Smoking & HIV

Apr 29, 2001

Smoking&HIV Is smoking with HIV harmful to the immune system, or does it matter about the amount of smoking one does?

Response from Dr. Pavia

Smoking is bad for you, especially if you have HIV (duhhh). We try hard to help people quit.

There are a number of specific issues for people with HIV. Studies have shown that people with HIV who smoke have more pneumonias, and more severe pneumonias than HIV positive non smokers. HIV positive smokers are more likely to develop emphysema than smokers who are HIV negative. HIV treatment may increase blood cholesterol and triglycerides. If you smoke and have high cholesterol, the risk of heart disease goes up dramatically compared to having high cholesterol alone. I don't know of studies showing it lowers CD4 counts.

Quitting is hard (been there, done that) but worthwhile. The number of cigarrettes you smoke definitely matters, and if you can cut down to less than 5 smokes a day, the effects go down dramatically. The problem with cutting down is, most people end up increasing again. Quitting is best, but you should look to get some help. There are lots of options, from smoke enders, to Zyban (wellbutrin) to various forms of nicotine replacement, like patches. Talk with your doctor, and with friends who have quit, or friends who want to quit with you.

As the Nike ad said, just do it.

Good luck


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