STUDY: Are Cigarettes Now Deadlier Than HIV?

By: Daniel Villarreal

Yesterday's passing of gay porn star Josh Weston is a reminder that, despite medical advances, HIV still kills people.

And a new study suggests that cigarettes are only increasing the body count.

Think Progress explains (bolding theirs):

"According to a new study, health complications resulting from smoking — and not from HIV itself — are actually the biggest cause of death among HIV-positive individuals.

"Researchers tracked HIV-positive people with access to highly active antiretroviral therapies (HAART), the medications that have drastically lowered the rates of HIV-related deaths since they first became available in 1996, and found stark differences between the smokers and non-smokers who received HAART treatment:"

"'In a large case-control study, smokers with HIV had substantially higher rates of all-cause and non-AIDS mortality than HIV-positive nonsmokers, according to Marie Helleberg, MD, of Copenhagen University Hospital, and colleagues. [...]

"'The bottom line, Helleberg said in a statement, is that "more than 60% of deaths among HIV patients are associated with smoking,'"compared with slightly more than a quarter associated with HIV.'"

That doesn't mean that HIV is less deadly than cigarettes, it just means that cigarettes increase HIV's lethality by a lot.

Smoking is already totes bad for you, and Think Progress points out anti-LGBT attitudes in our society make LGBT people much more likely to smoke and less likely to quit, resulting in over 30,000 LGBT deaths a year.

That's gloomy news to be sure. But it may encourage smokers to resolve quitting in 2013 (if the world doesn't end first); and there's even a lot of resources to help make sure that resolution sticks, no matter your current level of health.