Smokers with HIV more likely to die of lung cancer

September 19, 2017, 10:12 am

WASHINGTON -- People living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), who adhere to antiretroviral therapy but smoke cigarettes, are about 10 times, more likely to die of lung cancer than from the AIDS virus itself, a new study said Monday.

"Smoking and HIV are a particularly bad combination when it comes to lung cancer," said Krishna Reddy of the Massachusetts General Hospital, who led the study, in a statement.

"Smoking rates are extraordinarily high among people with HIV, and both smoking and HIV increase the risk of lung cancer, " she said.

The report, published in the US journal JAMA Internal Medicine, suggested that lung cancer prevention through smoking cessation should be a priority in the care of people living with HIV.

Using a computer simulation model of HIV, the researchers found that nearly 25 percent of people who adhere well to anti-HIV medications but continue to smoke will die of lung cancer.

Heavy smokers are at even higher risk for lung cancer, with risks of lung cancer death approaching 30 percent.

Overall, people with HIV who take antiviral medicines but who also smoke, are from six to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from HIV/AIDS, depending on the intensity of smoking and their sex.

When the researchers focused on people who do not perfectly follow recommended HIV treatment -- and who are thus at greater risk of dying from HIV/AIDS -- lung cancer was still estimated to kill more than 15 percent of smokers.

However, among smokers who quit at age 40, only about six percent will die of lung cancer.

More than 40 percent of people living with HIV in the United States smoke, compared with 15 percent of the general adult population.

Given how common smoking is, the researchers also projected that nearly 60,000 will die from lung cancer -- about 10 percent of all people who are receiving HIV care in the United States, including both smokers and nonsmokers.

"These data tell us that now is the time for action: smoking cessation programs should be integrated into HIV care, just like antiviral therapy," Reddy said. (Xinhua)