POZlife

POZLife: Life from the Infected and Effected point of veiw.

What a Drag: Smoking and HAART Butt Heads

Posted by pozlife on May 11, 2006

 

by Nicole Joseph

 

May 10, 2006—Smoking is bad for your health—that’s
not news. But the nearly 70% of people with HIV who light up on a
regular basis might be interested to know about a new study
showing that smoking may also reduce the benefits of HIV meds.
“It’s not uncommon to resort to smoking to deal with the
stresses of life with HIV,” says lead investigator Joseph
Feldman, DrPH, of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. “But
women who were smoking tended to have a less favorable result from
being on HIV treatment.”

The new findings, involving 924 women enrolled in the ongoing Women’s Interagency HIV Study
(WIHS), showed that positive women who smoked while on treatment had
inferior immune responses after more than seven years on treatment and
were 36% more likely to get AIDS-related diseases than their
non-smoking peers. While the risk of AIDS-related death was no
different, the smokers were 53% more likely to die overall.

The
effects of smoking on people with HIV haven’t gone unnoticed in
the past. Earlier research blamed cigarettes for weakened immune
systems—not to mention the higher risks of lung cancer, heart
disease, osteoporosis in women and impotence in men that affect
negatives too. But the new analysis, reported in the June 2006 issue of
The American Journal of Public Health, is believed to be the first to
specifically examine the impact on highly active antiretroviral therapy
(HAART), the “combos” of current HIV treatment.

So
how does smoking sabotage the benefits of HIV treatment? The
researchers believe there’s a medical explanation and hope to
pinpoint it in further studies. But meantime, there are theories.
“It may be that smoking just causes other problems—a sort
of cumulative burden,” suggests Feldman, “or that smoking
directly interferes with a mechanism of HAART and renders it less
effective.”

The researchers corrected for factors that
could otherwise have skewed their findings, such as the possibility
that smokers might be “risk takers” and therefore likely to
adhere to their meds or the fact that the smokers in the study were
disproportionately injection-drug users, who often have extra health
problems. Gender itself is not necessarily a factor; the new findings
may apply to men as well. “The data suggests that the influence
really is in the immune system,” says Kathy Anastos, MD,
principal investigator of the Bronx, New York branch of WIHS.

Smoking
is just one of a multitude of health isues that HIV researchers are
looking at with greater concern as positive people live longer.
“[People with HIV] are dying from non-HIV-related causes,”
says Mardge Cohen, MD, a doctor in Chicago whose patients include
smokers with HIV. “They’re much more than just the
virus.”

Taking a broader view and studying health
problems over the long term throws a different light on the value of
preventing such problems—in this case, keeping positive people
from starting smoking in the first place and helping all ages to quit.
In fact, says Anastos, based on the findings of this study,
“Providing treatment for smoking cessation is one of the most
important things we can do for people who respond well to HAART.”

From : POZ Mag

Stop Smoking now-
POZlife

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