With the new year upon us, many Americans are once again resolving to quit smoking. If you need a motivational boost, consider this: There is evidence that tobacco could be more harmful to people’s health than the HIV virus.
Researchers in Denmark have found that people with HIV receiving quality treatment have a significantly shorter life expectancy if they smoke. The findings were published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases last month.
The study followed 3,000 HIV patients from 1995, when the protease inhibitor therapy came on the market as an HIV management drug, to 2010. The data revealed that HIV positive non-smokers in their 30s could expect to live until age 78, while HIV positive smokers would likely die before age 63. The reason? The virus appeared to intensify the negative health effects of tobacco use. The risk of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease increased exponentially in HIV patients.
The LGBT community in the U.S., disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the disease’s discovery more than 30 years ago, is also marked by excessive tobacco use. According to the most recent data published by the LGBT National Tobacco Control Network, members of the LGBT community are 50 to 200 percent more likely than the general population to be addicted to tobacco. A 2004 California study found that lesbians were 70 percent more likely to smoke than other women, and gay men were 50 percent more likely to smoke than straight men. And, nearly half of all teenage girls identifying as lesbians smoked compared to 29 percent of other teens.
For help quitting smoking, view upcoming seminars and classes sponsored by the LGBT Community Center’s SmokeFree Project at gaycenter.org/health/smokefree.